Script-O-Meter rating: 7
Premise from imdb.com: After the death of his girlfriend at the hands of Islamic terrorists, Mitch Rapp is drawn into the world of counter-terrorism, mentored by tough-as-nails former U.S. Navy SEAL Stan Hurley.
As a Vince Flynn fan, I put that aside and just enjoyed the film version. I think that with some fixes, this script could have gone from just good to memorable, and maybe over the top: The first few minutes deal with the Hero and the love of his life at a beach resort in the water, sun sparkling, etc. We know that there will soon be a blood bath of some sort and it is almost certain that the girl will be killed so as to give the Hero a motive for revenge to find the murderers and kill them.
So, to transcend this predictability, the Hero should have been released from prison after doing petty theft, having been in and out of institutions all of his life ever since his parents were killed in an automobile accident when he was 14. The aforementioned Back Story is revealed to the audience when the C.I.A. goes through his file and just mentions these facts offhandedly. This Hero is a flawed Hero if he is introduced in the above manner. He is finally cleaning up his act; he’s taking the big step and asking the girl for her hand in marriage. He has buffed up in prison already. This will be the set up for the pay off of seeing him transform into an action Hero bent on revenge.
As it stands, the Hero grieves the sudden loss of a loved one and by the end of Act 1, he determines revenge on the Islamic group that murdered her. However, revenge as a goal/desire for a Hero is short-lived and difficult to play out for a 120 minute story line. After a Hero puts the bad guy out of his misery, where does the story have to go?
Here, the story line got off track. Michael Keaton, brilliant actor as usual, starts out as the Point of View character, the mentor. But as the plot unravels, the new opponent comes into the story line. This new “bad guy” is not out for the Hero. He is gunning for the point of view character. This is problematic for the Narrative Drive and slows down what could have been an even better Action/Thriller story. Michael Keaton is given more play with the lowest point in the script, which should have gone to the Hero. There’s a punch-counter-punch between the new opponent and the point-of-view character that should have occurred between the opponent and the Hero.
The result is a reactive Hero who is motivated by revenge – This should have been written as a proactive Hero who is motivated not only by revenge, but by getting involved for the first time in his life with bringing down people who want to murder other people because of radical Islamic ideology. To honor the beautiful woman who was killed so senselessly, he decides to step up and go after the cell even though he has a self-revelation at the end that it’s simply impossible for one man to “get all the bad guys” in the world – but at least one has to try. The power of this story would have been much greater had the character been written this way.
In addition to the aforementioned script problems, the lead Hero was good, but not believable. Yes, he did buff up, but this actor should have been the demented Ghost and the demented Ghost or new opponent should have been the Hero. This is a casting decision, and I’m sure there will be many who disagree with what I’m saying.
Ramping up the stakes with the possibility of a nuclear explosion killing thousands of humans was okay, but the main point of any great story is the character arc of the hero. The plot is a mirror of the Hero’s character arc. That is why revenge as a motive is not forceful enough. The Hero and the new opponent going head to head would have strengthened his character arc and the nuclear aspect would not have seemed as if it was tacked onto the story line as a contrivance.