Tuesday, May 14, 2013

RECIPROCITY by Michael Gorrie

Reviewed by Jim Newman
(posted May 14, 2013)
(Screenplay | Action, First 10 Pages)

“From what I’ve read, this reminds me of
Gone in Sixty Seconds coupled with Ocean’s Eleven. Clean writing, fast read, but some components fall short – but nothing that can’t be fixed with a second draft.”
Let’s kickoff with the logline:
Original Logline: A bank thief has a debt placed on him after trying to help his friend with a Chicago loan shark. He's forced to pull jobs to repay the debt, but when his sister dies and his nephew moves in, he has to decide which direction his life is headed.
Let’s identify the recommended elements of an effective logline:
  • The logline hits these chords:
    • Protagonist – Bank thief
    • Goal/Mission – Choose between repaying a debt to loan shark or care of his nephew
    • Antagonist – Organized crime boss
    • Irony – A bank thief is conflicted between saving his friend and caring for his nephew
  • The logline lacks the following essential elements:
    • Time – How long does he have to repay the debt?
    • Structure – More than one sentence – will need to cut without sacrificing the other elements
  1. A bank thief has three days to choose between pulling a heist to save himself and his friend from a Chicago crime syndicate or retire to care for his orphaned nephew while in hiding.

Vince cuts up some cocaine, adding some baking soda to skimp on the weight, while David looks on. They pack it up and take it out for delivery to the loan shark. David comes packing heat while Vince works with the shark to clear up a debt with the shark’s enforcer watching over the exchange. After some disingenuous pleasantries, an ambush occurs where the cocaine is stolen. Vince is still responsible for paying the shark back for the money he borrowed to purchase the coke, but with the product gone there’s no other source of cash. After some colorful torture, David agrees to take on the debt after paying a small percentage of the amount owed. Now Vince and David own the debt.

They take off for the hospital so Vince could get some much needed medical treatment after his little run in with the boss and enforcer. David goes off in the opposite direction to visit his sick sister, who’s choosing to stop treatment and accept death where she reveals that her son (David’s nephew) will need a man in his life … and David is the only man she trusts with her son.

Bullet Pointed Feedback:
What I Like:
* Writing is clean, which gives the reader (me in this case) a fast paced read through the scenes.

* Format/structure is aligned with the standards. Plenty of white space – always a plus!

* Yanking out the fingernails gave me a chill down my back. Loved the idea, you psycho. haha

* The dilemma of taking on the debt to save his friend (putting himself out on a limb), but now he must choose: repay the debt or keep himself and his nephew out of harm’s way.
What Needs Work:
* Without having read the logline, I was a bit lost:
> What the story’s backdrop? Wasn’t sure what brought the characters together until much later.
> Who was the main character (Vince or David – not until page 10 do we learn it’s David)?
> Why we should care about the characters?

* The money owed to the Chicago loan shark seems to be small dollars and an easy fix for a bank thief. Make it a challenge and put it in the hundreds of thousands.

* A loan shark appears to be a low level stooge. Make him more authoritative like a
crime boss or top dog of the local drug trade.

* Although dialogue is on point, it felt a bit forced at times … unnatural. Maybe it was just how I was reading it and misinterpreted the tone.

* Give a bit more description of the scene’s location. What do we see around us?


None noted.
Rating: Take Another Pass

Thank you for sharing your work with us! Feel free to send me your rewrite for additional feedback and a review of your outline, if available.

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