Pitchplay

A compendium of short screenplay (or other fictive) ideas. Make your pitch. Works submitted remain the property of their originators, although it should be carefully noted that there are no new ideas.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

OCTOBER SURPRISE (JACK RYAN IV)

October Surprise: A Clear and Present Danger to Red Patriot Games

aka Jack Ryan IV

a pitchplay by Matt Wall (c) 2004

DR. JACK RYAN (HARRISON FORD, ALEC BALDWIN, or, if both previous Jack Ryans are unavailable, BRUCE WILLIS, KEANU REEVES, or DENZEL WASHINGTON), is in California on vacation while his beatific neurosurgeon wife CATHY RYAN (ANN ARCHER, or if unavailable, DEMI MOORE, CHARLIZE THERON, or HALLE BARRY) delivers an important lecture at a medical convention, his impish children Sally and Johnny (THORA BIRCH and HALEY JOEL OSMENT) safely off-screen for now at college and camp, respectively. We learn over a romantic dinner at the Top of the Mark (Ryan saying he prefers Californian wine, in foreshadowing) that Jack, it seems, has been lecturing at Annapolis and writing a book on Homeland Security, having lost political favor at the CIA. He has been viewed as paranoid for predicting terrorist attacks on American soil. "'Jack, you'v egone nuts over drug terrorism because of your involvement with the IRA and Narcoterrorists'," he reveals, repeating the words of the head of the CIA when he gets fired from his job. The following day, as his wife lectures, he goes on a sort of busman's holiday at Coast Guard Station San Francisco, examining the boarding and port control system for freighters entering the harbor.

As Jack rides along on a Coast Guard 47' motor life boat, the VTS sends an alert that a tanker that had been ordered to stand outside the Golden Gate has proceeded towards the Golden Gate bridge without authorization. Jack asks the name of the freighter, and recognizes it as being one of the boats re-flagged as part of the "Al Jibra Navy" under the direction of the shadowy but charismatic terrorist leader, OLSAMA THIN PLOTTIN (aka "OTP", JOHN LEGUIZAMO, seen first on video screens). "I warned those bastards about commercial shipping!" Jack cries. He cannot convince the authorities over the radio that this is anything more than a routine communications problem, but does manage to persuade the Coast Guard crew, and they zip off to intercept the freighter. A gunfight ensues, as the Coast Guard team enters into a forced boarding of the vessel. With gunfire erupting, help is sent. with a Coast Guard helicopter (now armed, thanks to the previous lobbying of Jack in an issue of "Proceedings of the Naval Institute") arriving just in time to gun down from the air the terrorist who is about to kill Jack. Unfortunately, the ship is set on a dead man's course towards the Golden Gate bridge, and there's nothing that can be done to stop it since the ship is at speed and the engines have been sabotaged by the terrorist crew. Jack ascends into the helo and, with the help of the crew, manages to "close" the Golden Gate bridge to traffic by hovering dangerously between the suspension cables and blocking oncoming traffic until the police arrive to close off the bridge. With everybody safely evacuated from the bridge, the tanker collides with one of the base pilings of the Golden Gate bridge and in a spectacular fireball explodes. The bridge makes a slow but spectacular collapse into San Francisco Bay.

Jack is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the dim-witted but likeable PRESIDENT RUSH (KEVIN KLINE), over the objections of the shadowy VICE PRESIDENT SHEEN (CHARLES DURNING or MICHAEL LEARNED). At the ceremony, RUSH publically asks Ryan to become his new Counter-Terrorism Czar, resuming the job he had been doing under the previous administration. Because of the public nature of the request, the Vice President cannot object nor can Jack refuse.

Jack re-enters the world of bureaucratic Washington. He tries to shore up the Homeland Security Defenses of the country, but becomes caught between pork-fattened Congressman who have no agenda other than being re-elected and lining the pockets of their cronies, career military officers who are eyeing lucrative industry careers after retiring with extra stars, the conniving underlings of the Vice President who are all out to get Jack, and a scurrilous cable news commentator FILBERT YESBRUM (CHARLES CIOFFI), who uses leaks to embarrass Jack's most trusted ally, COMMANDER ROBBY JACKSON (SAMUEL L. JACKSON) and at the same time make Jack the subject of a criminal investigation concerning the leak, lead by FBI Counter Intelligence Special Agent BRENT HOYLE (ED HARRIS). Agent Hoyle is at first antagonistic towards Jack, but comes to understand there is a vast conspiracy of some sort inside the intelligence operations of the country, and the effort to discredit Jack is part of some sort of advance effort.

In the meantime, Olsama Thin Plottin (OTP) has watched the heroic elevation of Jack via the media and decided that Jack's family must be the next victim of his nefarious terrorist organization. Jack first finds out about this the hard way, as his young son Johnny narrowly avoids being gunned down at a prep school lacrosse game by an attacker and his daughter is drugged and impregnated at college by the sleazy underling of OTP, a French exchange student, PIERRE GRENOUILLE (JASON SCHWARTZMAN) with OTP's sperm. To protect his family, the FBI arranges for them to be secretly hidden at a remote ski resort in the Rockies. "Not too many Arabs ski," Hoyle tells Jack. "But what about the French and Germans?!?" Jack asks.

In the meantime, Jack has been asked by President Rush to research the link between Olsama Thin Plottin and the evil mid-eastern dictator who once tried to kill Rush's father, SADMAN AL-PETROL (TONY SHALHOUB). Jack is skeptical, but the evidence being passed up by his analysts and spy satellites strongly suggest that Al-Petrol is building an atomic bomb and that he has plans to turn it over to OTP. We learn on-screen what Jack does not know: that the evidence is being manufactured as an excuse for war so that the oil company once headed by Vice President Sheen and the contracting giant once headed by the squirrelly, sinister DEFENSE SECRETARY SCOWLCRAFT (HARRY DEAN STANTON) can take control of Al-Petrol's country, North Librakistynia and seize its oil fields, and is abetted by corrupt CIA and Pentagon officials who want to reap profits from defense contractors. "But how do we get out of North Librakistynia once we're in?" asks ANONYMOUS UNDERLING OF SCOWLCRAFT (BEN AFFLECK). "That's the beauty of it," replies Vice President Sheen, exchanging smirks with Secretary Scowlcraft. "We don't. We stay there forever, causing perpetual war and a market for our products that will get bigger and bigger forever." We learn that President Rush is an ignorant dupe who cheats at computer golf and has to be constantly told by his Secret Service staff how to change the gears on his mountain bike, but one who genuinely thinks he's doing the right thing for his country as long as he's never contradicted by his staff.

Jack, despite misgivings, gives briefings to the Congress on the serious state of the weapons program of North Librakistynia, and the country goes to war. We see Jack watch the first strike on the capital of Bagradavita via satellite, a massive bombardment designed to kill Sadman Al-Petrol. The months wear on, and despite an early military victory and the capture of Al-Petrol (shown in video reveals on TV) the attacks on US troops become more and more severe. Jack is sent as a special envoy of the President to examine the situation on the ground in North Librakistynia, and finds it's far more severe than is being reported in the media or by the Vice President and Defense Secretary to President Rush -- the hard way, by surviving an all-out attack on the US compound in the Green Zone. Jack is dismayed to find censorship of press reports by a compliant media. "We want just enough war to keep the ratings up," says Yesbrum in a pre-broadcast video feed which Jack catches.

Jack briefs the President on his findings, but is dismayed to find that the Vice President's staff have beaten him back to Washington and told the President that it was Jack who was responsible for the flawed intelligence leading to the invasion of North Librakistynia. Jack resigns, saying that he was indeed responsible because he trusted people he thought were acting on behalf of the country but instead were acting to line their own pockets. "You won't teach at Annapolis again, either," scowls the Vice President. "Unless it's at the federal pen outside of town." As Jack leaves the White House, he is surprised to hear the secret location of his wife and children being revealed -- via a leak by Yesbrum -- and that the Colorado Mountain town where his wife and children are being protected has been cut off by an avalanche that has also cut off the town's power supply. Jack is tipped off by FBI Agent Hoyle that Olsama Thin Plottin himself has nevertheless found a way into the town and is going to torture and kill Jack's son and wife and then kidnap his daughter, still bearing OTP's unborn child.

We now are treated to a spectacular James Bond snow sequence pitting Jack against Pierre Grenouille, OTP, and their minions at the mountain-top resort. There are chases down luge runs, a hand to hand combat sequence on skates in the outdoor ice skating rink, RPGs used to start avalanches, and an all-out old West-style gun battle show down on main street between Jack and OTP. Jack prevails, but he learns at the last minute that OTP has been a front all along, and that it's Grenouille who not only has impregnated his daughter with his own sperm, but who is behind all the plotting in the first place. "The Arab people would willingly embrace the United States left to their own devices," he says. "But to return the French to their rightful place as leaders of the world required a little creative conflict generation." Jack manages to kill Grenouille as well, but not before Grenouille reveals that a nuclear device stolen from the US arsenal will be set off in Paris three days hence. The explosion will be blamed on the US, giving Old Europe an excuse to go to war with the US.

Jack then confronts the President with the evidence, collected on video tape, and he is put in charge of a strike team to find the nuclear weapon. They can't do this above ground, as this would give the French the excuse they need to strike the United States, so an elite team of counterterrorists is send underground -- literally -- to find the bomb in the Paris Metro. After a high-speed fistfight aboard the Metro ("Public Transportation Sucks," Jack says in an aside after the battle is over) with the corrupt French paramilitaries who are in league with Grenouille, Jack tracks the bomb to Pere Lachaise cemetery. The remaining terrorists of OTP and their evil French colleagues are tracking Jack and his team, and an explosive gun battle erupts over the various gravestones. Jack gets to the coordinates of the bomb -- and discovers it's under Jim Morrison's grave. He hacks out the grave with a jackhammer while Agent Hoyle and Commander Jackson fight off the bad guys. They get to the weapon just in time, and defuse it by pouring a bottle of French wine into the trigger mechanism. "I prefer Californian wine," Jack says.

In the end, the Vice President and his cronies stay in power and President Rush is re-elected in a landslide, but Jack is able to get his old teaching job at Annapois back because he has deposited a tell-all book to be published in the event anything happens to him or his family. But Rush is forced by Jack to plan a withdrawal from North Librakstynia and a tax is placed on large defense corporations to pay bounties to the survivors of the US troops killed in the invasion. A charismatic leader from the traditional seat of resistance (BRAD PITT, in a cameo) is democratically elected to lead the country -- under the watchful eye of the UN. The Al-Jibra organization, it seems, was only a few dozen guys after all. Jack is given the honor of officially lowering the country's terrorist alert from Orange to Green, and then has to rush off to the hospital for the birth of his first grandchild -- who, as is proved by DNA tests, was fathered by a Naval Academy Cadet a week before the incident in which Grenouille tried to impregnate Sally. The child is named JACK RYAN II (newcomer TBD).

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