Hi all.

Wow, is this late. My apologies.

Woke up late and then the wife and I go to yoga every Wednesday. We actually have this lady teacher that reminds me of Yoda in Episode 2. She comes in all feeble-like, then seems to bounce around the room, tucking legs behind her head, balancing her entire body on one finger, that sort of thing.

Hope you’re enjoying hanging out with just your buddy Hank this week. (Walker, not to worry Roy will be back tomorrow night.)

Oh right, the review…

THE SUICIDE THEORY by Jovan Jevtic

Logline – A disgraced ex-New York cop must track down the man who shot the Mayor in order to uncover the truth about an identical case that led to his downfall three years earlier.

Will today’s script pull off that third week in a row for Good Script Wednesday? We’ll see.

1.) Can we visualize the description?

Description was good.

Here’s how we open:

EXT. SKYSCRAPER – DAY

New York City. Heavy rain crashes down. Police officers block the entrance. Bystanders gawk despite the rain.

An unmarked POLICE CAR screeches to a halt, siren BLARING.

Two men exit and hurry for the building. Both wear detective
badges on their belts.

The first man is NATHAN BLACK (37), casually dressed; a cop
with authority. His smart eyes show that detective work is
more than just muscles.

Behind him, DAWSON KELLY (39), dressed in a suit, tall, with
a military haircut. Could be easily mistaken for a FBI man.

A police officer, CONOR HILL (29), stops them at the
entrance. Sharp and polished, he still believes in the badge
he carries.

There were also some “unfilmables” that weren’t a problem, but I want to warn against overuse.

Page 60:

She checks behind her – is someone
following her?

I think there were maybe 5 total of these italicized, and they definitely shortened what would be an extra sentence or two in description, but as I mentioned, don’t overuse it. Keeping it subtle like this is a nice touch but NOT flashy.

There was one bit in the opening scene that we didn’t need to see.

Page 7:

Nathan gives Dawson back the cuffs. Dawson returns the cuffs to his belt. He comes face to face with Anthony and punches him in the stomach.

Not sure why this is in there, but avoid this type of unnecessary description, especially since it’s important what NATHAN does with his cuffs and keys.

Exterior Shots

Not taking off points, but drop these. They feel like cheap TV tricks, and don’t add anything to your scenes.

I’m talking about just an exterior shot of a building before we go in. Courthouse, apartment building, police station, etc.

Lastly, the fight scenes. These need to be dressed up. Reading Crafty Screenwriting at Chris’s suggestion, I’m really enjoying the “directing without direction” description he mentions here on the forum.

I found it hard to follow where everyone was in the fights/shootouts, and what they were doing. I almost wanted to skip to the end of it since it almost felt like fluff.

7 out of 10 points.

2.) Does the author use an acceptable format?

For the most part, yes.

I’m particularly becoming fond of these types of transitions, since it’s much smoother than a new slugline and helps us move through the scene.

Page 2:

The elevator door opens. Dawson and Nathan enter.

ELEVATOR

Nathan presses twenty.

Grammar

Now the address on the title page is in France, so I’m assuming that some of these errors were made in English as a second language for Jovan, but either way there were enough for me to take notes.

Page 11 – “Clutching on to…” Should be, “clutches a stack of papers.”

Page 16 – Reporter’s line, “…still in the surgery.” Drop “the.”

Page 53 – Niles – A friendly advice. Don’t need “a” in that sentence.

Page 71 – Dawson and Nathan have a bit of back and forth saying “You don’t trust me no more?” Trust me ANYmore.

Then go back and check for a general polish. I skipped some of them, as listing them all in this review would become monotonous.

Directions

On page 21 I became irritated by the use of direction via parentheses.

CONOR
(to Nathan, aggressive)
I’ll get you next time, asshole.

Then on next page:

NATHAN
(dryly)
I can’t get lower than that.

First off, if your characters are established correctly, we won’t need how they read the lines. Besides an actor will want to read it how he wants anyway.

Second, the other time it seems to happen is when telling us who the character is talking to. Again, if you’re doing your job properly with description, we won’t need this.

Using parenthetical directions is another trick that we should only use sparingly, to generate the most dramatic impact possible.

5 out of 10 points.

3.) Is the dialogue free of exposition and rich in subtext? Does each character have a unique voice?

This I’m not going to spend a lot of time on, since I enjoyed the dialogue.

Page 22:

HELEN
Where are we going here?

NATHAN
I need to check something. I’ve had
questions piling up for three
years.

HELEN
So this is again pro bono? I need
to eat something you know.

NATHAN
It won’t take long. And since when
do you eat?

HELEN
Since you stole all my liquor
bottles.

I’d argue Helen’s pro bono line should be changed, since it seems like one of those grammar problems. “More pro bono work? I need to eat, you know.”

Overall though I liked how Nathan inspired a lot of witty banter with the other characters. Even early on with his back and forth about Dawson becoming captain. Felt there was a lot of exposition as subtext that was hinted at but not directly spelled out.

One problem I did have was on page 2.

CONOR
It’s a newspaper company.

NATHAN
Never heard of them.

CONOR
They’re a group that owns several
daily newspapers. At least that’s
what the doorman said.

DAWSON
Keep up the good work, Conor.

CONOR
Thank you, Sir.

Not sure we need this information. It seems like that earlier example of giving Dawson his cuffs back, which never becomes useful.

I almost think it’d be more interesting to have what the company does be a mystery that Nathan can find out three years later, that links them with New York Eagle News.

Overall though it was good, and each character had their own voice.

9 out of 10 points.

4.) Does the writer understand the challenges and rewards posed by the medium chosen in which to tell his/her story? Shorthand version of this is: Is it a movie and not a play?

This was definitely a movie. All the scenes belong on the big screen.

10 out of 10 points.

5.) Is there anything unique in what the writer presents? Are the writer’s ideas, based on this sample, likely to continue to be original?

I enjoyed how this went from a basic cop drama, but slowly developed into a thriller.

On top of that everything flowed naturally, and it’s my suggestion that some of our readers here check out how Jovan structured it.

10 out of 10 points.

6.) Does the script have a hook?

I admit, I found the logline interesting. It felt like a story we’ve seen before, but I was interested to find that “something different.”

First two pages give us the police on location, and we find out there’s a jumper, and pardon the pun, we jump right to it.

15 out of 15 points.

7.) Is that hook effective?

Not only do we go right to the jumper, but Nathan saves him, and we get to take a breath, only there’s a tussle and the jumper gets free, gets a gun, and murders seven people (himself included).

This is a travesty, as instead of losing one life, we’ve now lost seven.

Flash forward 3 years, where the mayor is about to make a big announcement. BANG, BANG, he’s shot and the killer says the same thing word for word that the jumper did 3 years earlier.

I didn’t mean it. It wasn’t me. I didn’t want him to get hurt.

Hmm, coincidence? Good thing our main character doesn’t believe in them.

The ONE part I didn’t like was the newspaper bit. It felt EXTREMELY gimmicky.

It’s also unnecessary because we’ll get all this information later.

Take. It. Out.

12 out of 15 points.

8.) Is there enough to maintain the hook? Reveals, conflict, etc.?

The rest of the story plays out well.

I do want to note some issues I think need addressed that should tighten the story overall.

Wasted Scenes

On page 23, we go back up to where +VERTISE used to be. It’s not there anymore. The only thing this scene sets up is the ability for a flashback.

I think ALL flashbacks need to be dropped since it never gives us any information we don’t already know. Nathan’s troubled, we get that from other aspects of his life (including the scar on his face and his games of Russian roulette).

Drop them. (Meaning the flashbacks.)

*On page 26, there’s a flashback, that I think needs dropped, but I LOVE the old newspaper under the liquor bottle. EXCELLENT technique, but the one suggestion I would make is to use one of the earlier, stronger newspaper titles like:

SUICIDE JUMPER SAVED ONLY TO KILL SEVEN. NYPD DETECTIVE RESPONSIBLE!

Rose

I liked her character, but I wanted more. I think Nathan is the ONE person she’s been waiting for these past few years. He’s the only one she can trust, but that should come off in a kooky manor.

I like her hiding among the crazies, but I think we should be confused on whether she herself is crazy or not. Especially when she comes to Nathan’s apartment. Undressing in front of someone is a very intimate situation, and I think it symbolizes her trusting him, which is too quick.

Plus when we lose Helen, there should be more of a gap on what happened where we’re left wondering if Rose was actually behind it. That “realistically” makes more sense than someone from outside hypnotizing her, especially since Rose is the only one left alive after +Vertise which is also suspicious.

Conor vs. Nathan

Page 52, Conor seems to warm up to Nathan. That’s too soon. Their character arcs should be intertwined with the plot:

Early story – Resistiance

Midpoint – Reluctant Acceptance (You’ve been right so far, old man, I’ll play along.)

End of Act 2 – Conor trusts Nathan, and admits he feels responsible for Beau’s death.

This adds drama, and should progress slowly, developing as the B story to your main story.

6 out of 10 points.

9.) Does the story play to a target audience, and have the elements demanded by that audience?

People are going to like this. They’re going to enjoy the suspense interwoven with the police drama. They’ll also enjoy Nathan’s need to resurrect justice for his past.

The few minor things I had a problem with were as follows.

Weight of the world on your wrist

Now I’m not a doctor (as much of a shock as that might come to some of you), but I had a really hard time trying to accept that Nathan is holding onto Anthony with just a handcuff around his wrist. There’s the full weight of a grown man on the other side dangling over the edge, while Dawson’s pulling at his other wrist.

Something would break or more likely get snapped off at that joint I would assume. Even if it’s true and it WOULD work in real life, I’d be curious to see how many other folks had the same thought in that place.

If it’s just me, keep as is, but if a few people are saying, “C’mon,” you might consider changing it. It’s one of those elements that brought me out of the story and I was thinking more about the actuality of it being feasible that way then continuing with your story.

Nathan vs. Dawson

Nathan can’t kill him. Maybe Dawson and Niles turn on each other, or it’s an accident and Nathan tries to save Dawson and can’t, ANYTHING other than your hero taking a dark turn right at the end of your story.

Batman doesn’t kill villains, so neither can Nathan.

Just end the damn thing…

We conclude with Conor and Nathan finally accepting each other.

I don’t like them lying about Ryan and his sister being dead.

I don’t like the nightmare.

And ESPECIALLY I don’t like the setup for the sequel.

Know when to get out. Just like leaving a scene, always default to ending your movie early instead of ending it late.

5 out of 10 points.

Conclusion

This was actually a very good story paired with a good writing sample. Hopefully Jovan can address a few of the minor things and then get it to some folks to check out.

The grammar was probably the easiest to fix, and other than a few slight plot points, I think the entire structure is there and in need of a quick polish at best.

We’re 3 for 3 on Good Script Wednesday.

Total 79 out of 100 points.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Hank,
    Thanks for your review. I agree with everything you said. English is my second language but I did go through every line. I guess I missed several. The wrist scene could be easily modified. Nathan snaps the cuffs and pulls Anthony toward Dawson. something like that and then there’s no hanging.
    Thanks again.
    Jovan

  2. I am actually surprised how good some of these second-language scripts can be. If I think about it, scripts written by non-natives are much richer and craftier in dialogue and yet on to the point with description than the American ones. Maybe the fact that they do not speak English all the time makes it more unique and polished?

    From this review I’d love to read your script, Jovan!

  3. @ Jovan – You’re welcome and thanks for the read.

    @Jacob – Thanks very much for the comment and you may be onto something there.

    Anyone interested should definitely check out Jovan’s script which can be found here or at the top of any review (it’s usually the title linked to the script).

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