Today, Chris from the blog Casta La Vista is pitching his movie in continuation of our month long blogathon (Check the schedule) following the Hollywood Fantasy Draft we conducted recently. Please share your thoughts and any insights you have in the comments and don’t forget to rate the pitch at the bottom!
- This Guy’s “Tokyo Storm“
- CS “It’s Only Divine Right“
- Richard’s “Taking History“
- Fitz’s “Untitled Project“
- Michael’s “The Adventure“
- Red’s “Payback in Spades“
- Next: Castor and Neon whenever
Shades of Grey
Logline: He lies, he cheats, he steals; and he’s the good guy.
Shades of Grey is a detective based film noir which blurs the line of what constitutes right and wrong in a criminally controlled major city. The narrative focuses on washed up Detective Frank Washington as he tries to expose the corruption within the city’s government. Visually it takes cues from Rian Johnson’s style as used in the excellent Brick albeit on a larger, city wide scale – think dirty streets, dark alleyways, misty docks and sleazy speak easys.
Congressman Carmichael (Christoph Waltz) – a dirty politician who is taking bribes from the criminal underworld to pass new regulations which would allow the mob to control the transport routes both in and out of the city.
Fiona (Natalie Portman) – Carmichael’s daughter, recently returning to the city after finishing university
Misty (Famke Janssen) – the Femme Fatale; Washington’s ex fiancée who has recently become the proprietor of his favourite bar; the Full Moon.
Manning (Idris Elba) – Carmichael’s right hand man and enforcer. Enjoys the heavier handed elements of the job.
Brookes (Tom Selleck) – Washington’s former partner and now sole proprietor of the Brookes and Washington Detective Agency.
We open with Washington tied to a chair being interrogated by Manning. Manning alternates between throwing punches and demanding that Washington tell him “where she is”. A severely beaten Washington smiles and tells Manning that she’s dead already, at which point Manning breaks a chair over his head and knocks Washington out.
Fade to black – cue opening credits.
Some time before the prologue, Washington is sat drinking excessively at the Full Moon in the middle of the day. Misty tells him to go home and Washington flippantly remarks that she isn’t in charge of him anymore. As he is about to leave a courier arrives at the bar with a packet for him – Washington demands to know how the courier found him to which the courier replies “where else are you going to be?” Frank signs for the packet and leaves. He awakes at home in the middle of the night and looks confusedly at the packet, which he has forgotten he signed for. Inside he finds documents that imply that the city’s long thought to be corrupt politician Carmichael is involved in deals with the mob, who have a stranglehold over shipping in and out of the city. He decides to act on this information straight away and heads round to the house of his former partner Brookes.
Brookes is less than impressed with a severely hungover and bedraggled Washington turning up at his house at three in the morning. Washington explains the documents he’s been given, but Brookes thinks they are all too circumstantial to work on. They argue and Washington leaves saying that he’ll handle matters himself.
Washington drives to Carmichael’s residence to snoop around for evidence. He breaks in through the back of the house and sneaks into Carmichael’s office. Whilst rifling through desk drawers and documents, he pockets a number of the more expensive looking items which he finds throughout the office, including an ornate letter opener. He is caught by Manning and the two engage in a fight, Washington quickly using the letter opener as a weapon. The fight spills out into the main atrium of the house and the noise wakes up the rest of the residence. Washington has his back to the front door and Manning is making moves towards him when Carmichael comes to the top of the stairs in his night wear wielding a revolver and demands to know what’s going on; Manning briefly explains and Washington ends up with a gun pointed at him by Carmichael. Coincidentally the front door opens and Carmichael’s daughter walks in. Washington grabs her and holds the letter opener to her throat and starts to back towards the door. Carmichael calls him out for bluffing and that he won’t kill her, Washington then (slightly) cuts Fiona’s neck to show how serious he is and backs out of the door.
Washington drags Fiona over to his car and Manning, who by this point has found a firearm of his own, fires towards them. Carmichael orders him to stop for fear of hitting Fiona and the pair get away.
Washington drives to the Full Moon and hammers on the door until Misty opens it for him. He rushes inside and upstairs with Fiona in tow. He explains what’s happened to Misty who comments that he still hasn’t changed and that he’s still forcing women around after him. Fiona demands to know why she’s been kidnapped and Washington explains his investigation into Carmichael. She then demands to be let go as she is of no real use to Washington, who replies that she’s seen too much, knows his real name and knows about his connection to Misty. Misty berates Washington for kidnapping Fiona and tells him she wants him out of their first thing in the morning. He then gags Fiona and binds her to a bed before leaving the room.
Fiona awakes with Washington stood over her – Washington declares that they’re going out. Washington and Fiona head to see Brookes at his office, passing by a pawn shop on the way to sell Carmichael’s stolen effects. Brookes is less than impressed to see his washed up former partner again so soon, especially now that he has a kidnapee in tow, but states that after thinking over the documents Washington showed him, he may have grounds to investigate Carmichael further. Washington explains the situation to Brookes and states that he needs help in getting into Carmichael’s office in order to dig up more evidence as he believes he may find proof of Carmichael’s unjust dealings inside. Brookes says he’ll see what can find out but it may take a little time. Washington declares that they have no time and leaves.
Washington, too impatient for Brookes’ info, heads to scope out Carmichael’s offices himself. Fiona tries to escape but Washington recaptures her and threatens her. Figuring that trying to sneak into the offices in the daytime will be fruitless and that it would be too difficult to gain access at night without knowing more about the buildings security detail, Washington surmises that they’ll need to wait for Brookes’ info. They head back towards the Full Moon to wait for word from Brookes but as they turn the corner they see Manning banging on the Full Moon’s door, Misty sticks her head out of the window and tells Manning to get lost. The two flee and head back to Brookes’ office. As they arrive Brookes is finishing a phone conversation; as he hangs up he informs the pair that Avery Little, the maintenance manager of Carmichael’s building, drinks daily at Rick’s Bar on the other side of town and that he’s known to frequently slanderise his employers when he’s had too much to drink. The pair leave.
On the way to Rick’s Fiona complains to Washington about being dragged around like a child. Washington, still not sure whether to trust her, reluctantly releases her from his grip and lets him walk alongside her. She asks what happened to cause his relationships with Misty and Brookes to become so tried; Washington tells her to mind her own business. The pair arrive at Rick’s where a hefty bribe (from the proceeds of Carmichael’s pawned effects) and a large amount of alcohol convinces Little to give up his maintenance keys to Carmichael’s offices as well as details of what he knows of the guard patrols.
Washington and Fiona sneak into Carmichael’s offices without much trouble and find details of a meeting that is set to go down that night at the Docks. Washington suspects that this gathering will consist of Carmichael and those mob bosses that control the shipping in and out of the city. As they are about to leave, Carmichael and Manning return forcing Washington and Fiona to escape down the office’s fire ladders.
Washington decides to head back to the Full Moon to regroup and check up on Misty. On the way Washington asks Fiona why she didn’t call out for help back at the office when Carmichael and Manning arrived as she could have quite easily escaped his capture. She reveals that she actually resents her father for a cruel upbringing and for the bad things that she knows he has done. She has seen the bad effects of her Father’s actions and wants to help Washington bring him to justice
When they arrive at the Full Moon, they find that Misty has been tied to a chair and has had her throat slit. There is a note attached to her face reading simply “give me my daughter back”. Washington kneels before her and weeps uncontrollably, distraught that he’s lost the only woman he’s ever loved. Washington reveals to Fiona how their relationship went awry: whilst the two argued one day in the past, a heavily pregnant Misty moved away from Washington and tripped over a low table, causing her to miscarry. Despite being an accident and Misty forgiving him, Washington never forgave himself and turn to drink – which in turn led to arguments between him and Brookes (who had been a close friend of the pair) which culminated in a fight between the two and Washington quitting from their Agency.
Fiona convinces him to finish what he’s started and stop her Father’s corruption. Resolute with anger and driven to bring Carmichael down, Washington and Fiona head to the proposed meeting site at the Docks. Just within the warehouse, Washington can see numerous people shifting large boxes which he suspects to be filled with contraband. Just before he sneaks in a little closer, he secretly locks Fiona into a small cupboard and tells her it’s for her own good and will keep her out of danger. Fiona tries to call out to Washington, but the door muffles her voice. Frank sneaks further in to the warehouse and avoids detection up until the point that he is close enough to go and open one of the boxes to reveal its contents. He is surprised to find that they contain stuffed toys and rips apart a couple to see if there is anything hidden inside, which there isn’t.
Manning appears behind Washington and tells him he’s fallen right into their trap; the details of the meeting were a fake meant purely to lure Washington to the Docks with Fiona. The two fight but Manning quickly obtains the upper hand and soon beats Washington to the ground. He then proceeds to drag Washington into a small maintenance room filled with barrels and ties him up to a chair. We then commence the scene from the very beginning of the film. After Manning has broken the chair over Washington’s head and knocked him out, Washington’s chair falls to the floor and breaks in the process. Washington groggily awakens and can just about see Manning on the phone to Carmichael in the corner of the room about ten metres away. Due to the chair falling and breaking, Washington manages to loosen and free his hands, picks up a piece of the broken chair leg and sneaks over to Manning, stabbing him through the back of the shoulder.
Washington makes to get out of the room but catches himself on one of the barrels and falls, knocking it over in the process which causes gasoline to spill all over the floor. Manning blind with rage, hasn’t noticed the gasoline spill and moves towards Washington, who outmanoeuvres him and manages to handcuff Manning to a pipe. Washington tries to escape and runs back towards the cupboard Fiona is locked in, in order to free her and get away. At the same time, Manning – desperate to catch up to Washington – attempts to shoot himself free of his handcuffs and ignites the gasoline. The power of the explosion rocks the buildings and forces Washington straight out of the glass windows he’s running alongside and onto the ground outside the building.
After a moment, Washington drags himself up and turns back to look at the building, mouthing only “Fiona”. Vans pull up and many armed men surround Washington who has his hands tied up with cable ties and is forced into a van. The van arrives at a new location, Washington is dragged out and forced into a room full of mob members all sitting round a large table, every one of which he has had bad dealings with in the past. Carmichael sits at the head of the table and proceeds to torment Washington telling him how he’s going to be passed round each family who will each be given their opportunity to deal with him for the trouble he has caused them in the past, before finally coming back to Carmichael to be tortured to the point of death for being responsible for Fiona’s death.
Carmichael reveals that the meeting is actually regarding the privatisation of the rail networks in and out of the city; the rights for which are being exclusively offered to the mob families who will thus control everything that moves in and out of the city – in effect leaving them to control the city. Washington refutes Carmichael’s ability to get the heads of all the mob families together and demands to know who is pulling the strings.
The man behind the scenes who has facilitated the mob families’ get together is revealed as being Brookes; tired of being the man in the middle and never getting the remuneration he deserves, Brookes steps to the lead of the consortium as he holds enough information over each member to put them all away for a very long time; essentially blackmailing them for their to turn up, but leaving the choice to each one whether or not to join up. Fearing that not doing so will leave their families vulnerable, every boss signs up.
Sirens can be heard. Thinking that each one has sold the other out, a fierce gun battle ensues between the mob bosses in which they all kill each other. Knowing that they cannot be found at the scene, Carmichael and Brookes try to escape; Washington gives chase as best he can considering his injuries, firing after both. As they enter an empty warehouse the police can be heard banging on the doors outside, proclaiming the building to be surrounded. The three freeze; Brookes and Carmichael aiming and Washington – him switching between the two. Carmichael proclaims that this is it and that when the police break in he’ll pin the whole mob massacre on Washington – after all, who are the police going to believe? A politician and a recognised detective or a washed up alcoholic. The police can still be heard hammering outside; Washington laughs hysterically saying he has nothing to lose anyway and even if he is locked up, he’ll be happy in the knowledge that Fiona was working with him to take her Father down and that everything Carmichael has fought for and believed to be important is a lie.
Carmichael snaps and shoots Washington, whilst simultaneously Brookes shoots Carmichael and, Washington acting out of instinct, shoots Brookes. Only realising what happened moments after, Washington – having only been hit in the shoulder – drags himself over to kneel in front of Brookes who says with his dying breath “you always were a better shot than me.” Brookes dies just as the police break in; Washington kneels with one hand above his head (the other arm he holds gingerly from his gunshot wound) and is surrounded by the police. Washington faints.
Some time later, Washington wakes up in a hospital bed to find a heavily injured and bandaged Manning sitting next to his bed, brutally scarred from the gasoline explosion. A shadowy figure stands in the doorway. Washington tries to move but finds Manning has cuffed him to the bed. Washington tells Manning to finish what he started and kill him. Manning tells him that he’s only interested in talking.
Manning goes on to explain that both he and Brookes had been working under deep cover for the past two years and that everything that happened was in an attempt to get the heads of the mob families together and take them and Carmichael down, freeing the city from their grasp permanently.
Manning throws Washington the keys to the cuffs and an envelope and leaves. As he does so, the shadowy figure is revealed to be Fiona who Washington thought to have died earlier in the explosion back at the Docks. She waves briefly and walks away; Washington opens the envelope Manning threw to him. Inside is a note written in Brookes’ flowing handwriting – Brookes’ voice: “Frank, I’m sorry you had to find out this way, but it had to be you that ended it. I set them up and you knock them down; I couldn’t have done it without you. Your friend, Rupert.” Washington grips the letter and begins to sob uncontrollably.
Fade to Black