An excerpt from Reals’ script review for Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre which will be available 06/04/23:
What Needs Work
The Title – We have talked a lot about titles recently, particularly because I’ve begun to notice when a title is really bad. It puts me off of a script, and your title is a very vital first impression.
Both “Five Eyes” and “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre” are terrible titles. They tell me nothing about the story, the genre, or the characters, they aren’t catchy, and, most importantly, neither makes me want to read the script!
The Opening – Look, there’s a lot wrong with the opening. There are massive chunks of text, a generic “Mission Impossible” style break-in, the lead character is named Orson Fortune (I mean, come on!), but what really chapped my ass was the way the writers explained what was happening instead of showing us.
For example, this is how the script starts:
ORSON FORTUNE (50s) a handsome, rugged, beguiling, and supremely experienced intelligence agent powers forward, leading his team of THREE ARMED OPERATIVES on a stealth mission, to break into a remote military lab.
You don’t have to tell us that they are on a stealth mission to break into a remote military lab. Show us!
Awful Dialogue – I hope the dialogue was part of what Guy Ritchie punched up. Because we get lines like this, ripped straight from a parody of action movies:
We won’t both make it.
No, we won’t. The mission’s more important. Go.
I’ll come back for you.
Also, right afterwards, we get this gem of a line:
This is your chance to re-enter active service, make amends, and clear your name.
And this horribly cringe-worthy line on Page 31:
Mr squeaky clean just became Mr filthy dirty.
The Characters – I didn’t care about Orson (our lead). There was nothing special about him. We don’t see him do anything particularly heroic (especially in our opening) and he was about as bland as you can get for a spy / action hero.
So. Much. Exposition. – Instead of showing us our villain in some interesting way, here, the writers opted to just have one character monologue about him.
It’s boring. And tedious. And I skimmed. Because I didn’t care.
To show you what I mean, here it is, on Page 13 and 14:
Greg Simmonds the super stylish, super connected, super powerful, supernova, American Lord of War. He’s the arms broker that clients, despots, and governments rely on. He’s the man that makes the 80s look drab. He’s not plying his trade in back alleys or from the boot of his car. No, Simmonds is selling glamour, beauty, hedonism and opulence at the lavish, international parties he throws. Simmonds is the Gatsby of gunrunning. A master craftsman who understands the art of bringing people and deals together better than anyone. He markets the business of war and murder as good times and entertainment. And he’s pretty much untouchable, because everyone’s in his pocket.
Sarah – Again, like we talked about last week with The Mother, is anyone really going to believe that Aubrey Plaza is a highly-trained CIA operative?
Talking Heads – There is a scene from Pages 20 – 25 where the characters just stand around vomiting exposition. There is no movement, no energy, nothing visually exciting: just a few characters standing in Nathan’s Office talking.
Sometimes exposition is important and you just have to impart it to the audience somehow. But think of interesting ways for those scenes to play out, and make sure that your characters aren’t just standing around talking back-and-forth.
Physical Descriptions of Characters – I won’t go too deep into this, as you know my thoughts on describing your female (and, in this case, male) characters as “beautiful” or “sexy” or some other generic description of their physical form.
I was pretty checked-out of this script, but I made a note of it on Page 26, when they describe Madeleine as such:
Orson sits opposite MADELEINE POE (50s) sad eyes, but elegant and attractive.
Post Credits Scene – Why did you include this? We didn’t need it, and it just feels like an unnecessary setup for a sequel that will probably never happen.
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