Continuing along with my blatant theft of ideas and or casts, this one is just more of a conceit than an adaptation. It’s also much more of a scene with some attached ideas than a more fully fledged concept, however ideas aren’t what’s valuable, it’s the expression of them, so if this sounds cool, take it for your game or your fiction and make it your own. That’s how this works.
You also might notice the trend of music leading me down interesting mental paths. I’m very cool with that.
Originally published 16 Jan 2010.
So, listening to music again on the way to work. I started out with a great episode from the BBC’s Thinking Allowed about the concept of the working class, income disparities and self-identification. It was very, very good and very interesting. I’m going to go back to it. But I realized about two minutes into it that my brain was not in the right place.
So I put on music.
My brain was in that place.
I was listening to Metric’s recent album Fantasies. While the thoughts started coming on Satellite Mind, it overflowed into the album “Grow Up and Blow Away” (Two awesome tracks from that are “On the Sly” and “Soft Rock Star”).
Now, this is probably based a lot on the Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner comic Red (which is in the planning stages of becoming a motion picture [2016 Note: the movie came out in Sep 2010]). It’s basically the story of an assassin happily living in retirement (though haunted by the actions he undertook on behalf of his country). A political appointee to the CIA decides he needs to be removed because if anyone found out, it would be scandal.
I don’t think Mr. Ellis likes politicians.
Anyway, since the character in the comic is the best at what he does (and what he does isn’t very nice), he is able to survive the assassination attempt. He then calls in to his handlers that he is going “Red”–active. And then the shit really gets crazy.
I really like the concept of the person who has paid his/her due not being allowed to rest, and the extremes to which they may be pushed. There is also an aspect of divine retribution in the comic that is very satisfying.
So, in my head, I started to imagine a movie. The story is of an agent named John (not sure of a last name–I was thinking possibly Callow or Caiaphas). He’s now retired (though still relatively young), and the opening is of him making breakfast, enjoying it with his wife and daughter. Then, a cell phone starts ringing. Everyone stops. The daughter is confused. The wife is obviously worried. John is somewhere between annoyed and fearful. He goes to a drawer that has lots of odds and ends, old papers and such, and pulls out the cell phone. He answers.
“This is Six.”
On the other end we hear: “Status active. In motion.” The line goes dead.
John stares at the phone for a moment, then shoves it in his pocket. He looks at his wife, and she knows what this means. His daughter doesn’t.
“I have to go to work,” he tells her.
“But you work from home,” she says.
“Not any more.”
He gives his kid and his wife a kiss, the one with his wife lingering–a good-bye, and the opening montage starts.
With the credits rolling, he’s in some kind of vault. He puts on body armour under his shirt and suit. He straps on a few guns and knives, loads an SMG into a book bag or leather briefcase. We see him emerge from his garage, suit on, briefcase on his shoulder. He smiles and waves to his family, but the smile is forced.
He works for an unnamed branch of the foreign service. In my thoughts, this was Foreign Affairs in Canada. I envisioned the montage following him to work. Taking a bus into Ottawa, along Sussex, to the Lester B Pearson building. He enters, has the proper ID to swipe himself through security, descends some stairs to a single, secure elevator. When it stops, he goes to a guarded door. He puts his hand in some kind of scanner, his eye up to another, and breathes into a third. The door opens and he is through.
The operations centre is kind of run down. This is high tech with lots of monitors and communications equipment, but this isn’t NORAD. This is small. John’s boss approaches him.
John is pissed. “I’m out.”
The boss is good-natured but firm. “You are never out. You were requested.”
“Fuck them. I did my time. I’m out. Let them do the fucking job for once.”
Turns out, there’s a powerful minister that called him in on this. The minister’s got a grudge. He’s using his influence to fuck with John.
There is a second story intertwined with this one. A Muslim male, Ismail, who had helped facilitate some terrorism in the 1990s, is being released from prison after serving his time. He’s changed. He’s denounced violence as a political means. He’s a convert to nonviolent resistance. He’s a convert to the rule of law.
The problem is that no one believes him–not the police, not the intelligence services, and not the people he used to run with. He wants to be left alone, to start a life, to start making amends, but that doesn’t look like it is going to happen.
Now, I’m hazy on the macguffin and the villain of the piece. I know that John and Ismail end up working together and end up validating each other. I hope John returns to his family in the end, though I can see him possibly dying. Maybe both of them do. Nah, they both survive. There is poetic justice for the dicks of the story and final justice for the real baddies. John disappears with his family, the final shot is them somewhere green and lush rolling hills–maybe Scotland or Ireland.
Does Ismail find his small dream? Does he get to have a family and some peace? I think that’s only fair. Since these stories need some kind of love interest, maybe he finds his. Maybe she is the macguffin–a witness or someone who knows something who must be protected, but who is unwilling to reveal that secret until Ismail convinces her.
Hmmm, that might work.
And, as usual, this has been cast.
John is played by Paul Gross, whom I consider something of a national treasure in Canada. I mean, forget Due South (though that was fun), look at Slings and Arrows, look at Men With Brooms (it wasn’t that bad), and look at Passchendaele.
As for Ismail, I’m torn between two actors I’ve cast in something else. Faran Tahir made a huge impact with a very small role in Star Trek. He’s got the gravitas, for certain. Saïd Taghmaoui, though, has been consistently good through those roles in which I’ve seen him. I don’t know, I guess see who is available and interested.
That’s after, of course, someone bankrolls the film. How about $30 mil? I can write the script for low six figures!