by Brian Helgeland
Based on the novel by A.J. Quinnell
February 10, 2003 (V 2.0)
Property of New Regency Productions, Inc.
Work in Progress 2/10/03 "Man On Fire" OPENING TITLE SEQUENCE EXT. MEXICO CITY - DAY
High over the city on a bright Sunday morning, the sun pounding its way through the orange haze of smog. As we descend toward the clots of trafficblocking the streets: the sounds of a Mass being sung. A CATHOLIC CHURCH The big wooden doors open to release the parishioners inside. Feature a tall, lanky 18-YEAR-OLD. Holding his GIRLFRIEND’S hand, anxious for Sunday to really begin. They don’t notice the traffic suddenly thin, like a faucet’s been cranked down. They move toward a Mercedes 500. As a CHAUFFEUR holds the back door open for them... AGRAND MARQUIS Squeals around the corner, lurches to a stop alongside the Mercedes. FOUR MEN get out flashing badges. In a moment they’re hustling Eighteen toward the car, stiffarming the chauffeur. As the girlfriend cries and the gossip among the parishioners begins... The Grand Marquis pulls away. INT. GRAND MARQUIS - DAY
They shove eighteen down to the floor of the backseat. These guys arenot the police. A switchblade is flicked open. Practiced hands slit the boy’s Sunday suit from the base of his neck to his heels. Eighteen yelps as the blade draws blood across one calf. Duct tape is wrapped around his hands, eyes, and head. EXT. WOODED AREA - DAY
The Marquis is parked across from another CAR. FOUR NEW GUYS wait as Eighteen is hauled out of the Marquis. His clothes drop awaylike a snake shedding its skin. He stands naked, bound and blind. Eighteen is handed over from one group to the other. INT. TELEPHONE - UPSCALE HOME - MEXICO CITY - DAY The phone rings. A bomb going off. Eighteen’s distraught FATHER (family photos of the boy on the wall) answers.
Work in Progress 2/10/03 REVERSE TO REVEAL a battery of POLICE and NEGOTIATORS in the room with him. One of themlistens in, waves fingers at him as the negotiations begin. INT. VIDEO SURVEILLANCE OF AN 8’ X 4’ CELL - DAY
A wall smeared with God-knows-what. Facing it, Eighteen stands naked blindfolded and shivering. The back of his leg still bleeds. He shifts nervously as a little JACK RUSSELL TERRIER eagerly licks the blood off his calf. A MAN (’The Dreamer’), we don’t see his face, negotiates by cellphone. Voice calm. As he runs numbers, he slaps his thigh. Jack Russell trots over, gets an ear scratched. At a motion from the man, Eighteen is taken down to the ground. Straddled by two men, his head is mummified in tape leaving one ear exposed. CUT TO T.V. - Rosanna Garcia Guerrero, editor of REFORMA newspaper, being interviewed, "...organized crime syndicates...growth of kidnapping in Mexicoover the last two years." EXT. UPSCALE HOUSE - DAY
As a hand removes a ziplock baggie from the mailbox. A glimpse of something we don’t want to see. An ear partially obscured by sweating plastic and a blood smear. EXT. CITY SQUARE - MEXICO CITY - NIGHT
A MERCEDES driving around the square, Eighteen’s father waving a white shirt out the window like a surrender flag. EXT. BRIDGE - NIGHT (3AM)
Footbridge over railway sandwiched between freeway. Empty train blazes through. Dangerous, deserted downtown neighborhood. Looks more like "war torn Beirut", burnt out cars and trash. The 18 year old’s father, naked to the waist, walks from the family Mercedes over the footbridge carrying a pillowcase full of cash to a semiderelict car on the opposite side with a white piece of fabric tapedin the rear windshield and trunk open. He slams the pillow case in the trunk and leaves. EXT. DOWNTOWN MEXICO CITY - TWILIGHT
RUSH HOUR. A red stream of headlights separated from a white stream of taillights by a narrow median.
Work in Progress 2/10/03 HORNS blare as a CAR stops. Eighteen, still blindfolded, is dumped on the median. The car pulls away. He stands there in the whirlwind....