FILM SUMMARY: Crash, dir. Paul Haggis (2004)
Groupings of characters :
Detective Waters (Don Cheadle) and his partner, Ria, and later Detective Water’s mother
Older Iranian-American man who runs a shop with his wife; he has a daughter in her 30s
Two young African American men, Anthony (the talker) and Peter (the quiet one)
A Latino man, Daniel, who is a locksmith; also his little daughter and his wife
Jean Cabot (Sandra Bullock) and her husband, Richard Cabot (Brendan Fraser), who is the Los Angeles
District Attorney; also his African American assistant; also the Cabot’s maid, Maria
Officer Ryan (Matt Dillon); also his ailing father
Officer Hanson (Ryan Phillippe), who is Officer Ryan’s partner at first; later he rides in a squad alone
Shaniqua Johnson (who works in an office perhaps related to Medicaid)
Cameron, an African American television or film director (Terrence Howard) and his wife
Christine (Tandie Newton)
TODAY ENDS AND YESTERDAY BEGINS
1. Credit sequence begins with shots of out-of-focus car lights, some of which look like delicate flowers on the frame, accompanied by eerie music from a synthesizer. Suddenly, we hear a voice: “It’s the touch. Any real city, you walk. You brush past people. People brush into you. In L.A. nobody touches you.” Suddenly the image comes into focus, and we see the face of an African American man on the far right of the frame. “We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much that we crash into each other just to feel something.” Suddenly the face of a Highway Patrol officer leans down and asks, “You okay?” Then rack focus to show a Latino woman in the car. She says, “I think he hit his head.” “You don’t think that’s true,” the man says. “Stay in your car,” the cop says. Then the Latino woman steps out of the car after summarizing the accident they got into. “Somewhere in there you lost your frame of reference and I’m going to go look for it.” She gets out of the car. The woman approaches the officer and the driver of the other car, a Korean woman who is very upset. Suddenly the Korean woman points to the Latino woman and accuses her of being at fault. The officer tries to push her back, but now she is angry, too. “Mexicans don’t know how to driver. She “blaked” too fast!” But now the Latino woman is upset. “I “blaked” too fast? I’m sorry! You no see my “blake” light.” Cut to the Korean woman—even more upset now. “Maybe if you see over the steering wheel, you “blake” too! Cut to the African American man in the car. He looks on, impassive, a world-weary look on his face.
2. The Latino woman corrects the cop, who keeps calling her “Ma’am,” and says she is a detective. The African American man exits their car and walks across the highway toward the side of the road toward a crime scene. Apparently, he is a detective, too, and they were rear-ended as they arrived at the crime scene. Tracking shot follows him to the right as he reaches another police officer in plain clothes standing at the side of the highway. The lights of the city can be seen in the distance. “I heard it’s going to snow,” the other guy says. “What have you got?” Detective Waters asks. “Dead kid.” Title up. Detective Waters approaches the scene, and he kneels down at a shoe lying in the grass. Then he looks up and reacts to something—a shocked look on his face. The screen goes white.
3. Shot of the city. The graphic, “Yesterday,” on the screen. Shot of a revolver placed on a store counter. “You get one free box of ammunition. What do you want?” We see the clerk, a middle-aged white man, addressing two people, a man on screen right and a woman on screen left. Soon it becomes evident that the woman, the man’s daughter, is translating for her father. They appear to be Middle Eastern people. Soon the father and daughter are talking to each other in Farsi (language of Iran), and arguing about whether or not father should be buying the gun at all. Suddenly the clerk interrupts. “You, Osama! Plan your jihad on your own time. What do you want?” Now the father is offended. “You making insult at me?” The white man parrots this back, and asks, “Is this as close as you can come to English?” The father says, “I am American citizen!” The clerk is not impressed. “I have right to buy gun!” “Not in my store you don’t!” He pulls the gun back. He keeps yelling at the father. The daughter urges her father to step outside. Suddenly a security guard appears at the father’s side. The clerk yells, “I’m ignorant? You’re liberating my country and I’m flying 747s into your mud huts and incinerating your friends? Get the fuck out of my store!” Now it’s a yelling match. Finally, the father leaves the store. The daughter, a woman in her 30s, turns to the clerk and says in a low and determined voice, “You can give me the gun or you can give me the money. I’m really hoping for the money.” The clerk reacts, and then he slides t he gun back toward her and says in a hoarse voice, “What kind of ammunition do you want?” She says, “Whatever fits.” So he rolls off at least five types of ammunition and adds, “and a dozen more that will fit any size hole.” She looks over his shoulder and says she will take the ones in the red box. He looks over his shoulder at the racks of ammunition. “You know what kind those are?” “Can I have them?” she asks in a frustrated voice. He gives her the free box of ammunition. She exits the shop.
4. A matching cut to two young black men exiting a restaurant. The older fellow, Anthony, complains about the poor service afforded them—because, as he imagines it, because they were black. Anthony continues to complain—that the coffee server ignored them. But the younger man, Peter, points out that neither one of them ordered coffee in t he first place. He asks, “Is that evidence of racial discrimination? Did you notice that our waitress was black?” But Anthony has the answer: “And black women don’t think in stereotypes?” He complains further that the waitress sized them up—that “we were black and black people don’t tip.” They are filmed in a two-shot as they walk toward t he camera (down the sidewalk).
5. From the opposite direction comes a white couple, he dressed in a suit and she in a dinner dress. She has been complaining that he gets too many calls from his co-worker, so he hands her the cell phone battery. As she takes it, she seems to react to seeing something, and she takes his arm. He seems to react to the same sighting. Of what? Back to Anthony and Peter. Anthony pounces on what just happened. “You see what that woman just did?” Quick cut of the couple—as the woman looks toward the pair of black men. Back to Anthony and Peter. “She got colder as soon as she saw us!” But Peter does not want to hear this. Anthony launches into another theory. “You couldn’t find a better safer or well-lit part of the city right now. But this woman sees two black guys who look like UCLA students strolling down the sidewalk and her reaction is blind fear? Look at us! Are we dressed like gang banger? No. Do we look threatening? No! Fact: if anyone should be scared around here, it’s us! We are the only two black faces surrounded by a sea of over-caffeinated white people patrolled by the trigger-happy LAPD. So you tell me: why aren’t we scared?” Peter sums it up nicely: “Cause we’ve got guns?” Anthony responds, “You could be right.” Suddenly both reach under their coats and move forward. Cut to Peter pulling open the car door of the Lincoln Navigator, where the white couple we saw earlier is seated. They order the couple out of the car. Peter pushes the woman down, and she falls on the sidewalk. The husband moves toward his wife, but Anthony waves him off with his gun. A few bystanders can be seen. Suddenly Anthony is behind the wheel, Peter is in the car, too, and the car races off.
CHAPTER 3. A NICE GUN
Inside the car, Peter puts a St. Christopher statue on the dash, but Anthony tells him to take it down. Peter insists, “The man is the patron saint of travelers.” “You had a conversation with God, did you?” Anthony says. They argue back and forth as the car races down the street. Suddenly it roars past another crime scene.
6. Here are Detective Waters and his Latino partner, Ria, arriving at the crime scene. They are the same characters we saw in the first scene. Another patrol officer sums up the story—a road rage case, where the driver of a Mercedes took a shot at the driver of a pickup truck, but did not know the pickup driver was an off-duty cop. Detective Waters points toward a man standing next to two other cops. He is the off-duty cop, a narcotics officer. Then we learn that the cop shot back—one shot—and killed the driver of the Mercedes. “He looks very relaxed for having just shot somebody,” Detective Waters tells the cop. The cop says Conklin claims the road rage went on for a long time and that he shot back in self-defense. Detective Waters checks out the pickup truck—one bullet hole in the door. Nobody saw the altercation. Inside the dead man’s car, Detective Waters finds a pearl-handled revolver. “That is a nice gun.” His partner tells him the car is registered to a woman. And what does she find under the front seat—the badge of an LAPD officer. So one cop killed another cop. Now what are the odds of that happening? Detective Waters looks up and says, “Looks like Detective Conklin shot himself the wrong nigger.”
7. Interior of a big house. At the front door a locksmith is changing the locks on the door. This is the house of the white couple we saw in scene 5. A woman comes down the steps. She is Jean Cabot. She talks briefly with the locksmith, Daniel, and we can see that he has some tattoos on his neck. She strides away from the door and the camera follows her as she walks through another room and finds her husband—who is deep in conference with his assistant. “I need to talk to you for a second.” He leaves reluctantly and says she wants the locks changed—a second time—in the morning. Why? Note how the camera slowly tracks in on the couple, as they confer in the hallway. She complains that he is patronizing her. Then their maid, Maria, a Latino woman, says good night. Then Jean accuses the locksmith of being a gang member. Now we go to POV/Reaction in close shots of the two. Her husband, who happens to be the District Attorney, is astonished. She complains about the man’s “prison tattoos.” “Those are not prison tattoos,” her husband says. “He is not going to sell our keys to one of his gang banger friends the moment he is outside of our door!” He tries to calm her down. “I just had a gun pointed at my face—” He tells her to lower her voice. But she keeps on yelling. –“I knew it was going to happen; but if a white person sees two black people walking towards her (cut to the African American assistant of the D.A.) and she just happens to turn and walks in the other direction, then she’s a racist! I got scared, and I didn’t say anything, and ten seconds later I had a gun in my face. Your amigo in there is going to sell our keys to one of his homeys and this time it would be fucking great if you acted like you gave a shit!” Then she walks away into the kitchen. She reacts to a noise at the door, and we see a reaction shot of Daniel, the Latino locksmith, as he stands up and moves to the kitchen—and then we see an insert CU of his hand dropping four new keys on the counter. She reacts to this gesture, and we see both in the frame together—but he says nothing and leaves.
8. The scene continues, this time with the District Attorney returning to confer with his assistant, Karen, who happens to be an African American woman. “I’m the goddamned district attorney of Los Angeles!” What is he afraid of? The headlines! “D.A.’s car hijacked by two black youth!” “Fuck!” he screams. He does not want the negative publicity. “Why did these two guys have to be black?” “I’m either going to lose the black vote or I’m going to lose the law and order vote!” Karen tries to calm him down. “You have lots of support in the black community,” she reminds him. But he keeps thinking. Cut to wide shot, from Karen’s point of view: “What we need is a picture of me pinning a medal on a black man.” His other assistant, a white man, looks stunned. This guy draws a blank. The District Attorney recalls a firefighter. What about him? The male assistant reminds him that he was Iraqi. “Well, he looks black,” the District Attorney says, clueless. Reaction shot of Karen suggests she is stunned by his cynicism. The white male aide says, “He’s dark-skinned, but he’s Iraqi. His name is Saddam Kahune.” The District Attorney makes fun of this name and stalks off, frustrated at the trap he finds himself in.
CHAPTER 4. SOBRIETY TEST
9. Interior of a diner, shot from outside the window. A Chinese man says, “It was good doing business with you,” and he gets up from the table and walks away from the table after receiving an envelope from another man. As he walks left, the camera follows him, and we can see a policeman talking to someone on the phone. “You’re not listening to me. He’s in pain and he can’t sleep.” This becomes a parallel track when we cut to the woman on the other end of the phone. She is an African American woman who works for the welfare department. She tells him that the caller’s father has received medical attention for a urinary tract infection. It is no emergency. She urges him to make an appointment and come talk to her during regular business hours. “What does my father do about sleeping tonight?” “I don’t know! I’m not a doctor.” The caller asks to talk to her supervisor. “I am my supervisor.” He asks her name. “Shaniqua Johnson.” He reacts with more hostility. “Big fucking surprise that is!” Cut to her: she reacts with a shocked expression and hangs up on him. Back to the policeman. He hangs up and looks away, a frustrated expression on his face. He leaves the diner. Suddenly the Chinese man pulls up at the corner and then drives on—right in front of the officer, who pays the driver no mind when the van pulls away.
10. The policeman, Officer Ryan, gets in his squad car. His partner, Officer Hanson, is already in the car. They hear a report of a stolen Lincoln Navigator. Son-of-a-gun, if a Lincoln Navigator does not drive right past them. But it’s not the same car (different license). So why is Officer Ryan following it? He shines a bright light through the back window of the car, and suddenly we cut to a close shot of the passenger, a light-skinned African American woman, whose head rises up and turns to look back at the source of the light. Cut to Officer Ryan. “They were doing something.” He turns on his red light, and the Lincoln pulls over to the curb. Shot of the cop car stopping—camera focuses on Officer Hanson as he reacts to what is to come. Both cops exit their squad and we can see from an extreme high angle as they approach, from both sides, flashlights illuminating the scene. The people inside? Both are African American, and the husband, Cameron, smiles as he straightens himself in the seat. Meanwhile, his wife, Christine, wearing an elegant white dress, puts on some lipstick. They seem to be reacting to a private joke. What were they doing in that car? Officer Ryan asks for the license. As Cameron reaches into the glove compartment, Officer Ryan shines the light on the wife, and she turns to the officer and says, “How are you tonight, officer?” “Excellent,” he beams. He looks at the license. He tells them to stay inside the vehicle. When he walks away, both of them laugh quietly. Just when it looks like Officer Ryan will call in the information to the police computer (standard operating procedure), he returns to the car and asks the man to get out. Cameron says he has not been drinking. “He doesn’t drink—he’s a Buddhist, for Christ’s sake,” the wife says. Officer Ryan begins a standard field sobriety test with Cameron. Reaction shot of Officer Hanson—he is not comfortable with this encounter. Suddenly the wife gets out of the car. “I told you he doesn’t drink!” Officer Ryan warns her to stay in the car. Her husband tries to stop her—but she is a little drunk, and very much insulted. “Don’t you ma’am me!” she tells Officer Ryan. Who the hell do you think you’re talking to?” Suddenly Officer Ryan gestures for Officer Hanson—for assistance. Cameron tries to appeal to Officer Ryan to let them go. But Officer Ryan is firm about wanting to humiliate them. He orders the man to put his hands on his head and turn around. “We’re only a block away from our house,” Cameron says. Officer Ryan continues the drill, and when the man won’t respond to his orders, he grabs him quickly and spins him around and slams him against the car. Officer Ryan tells Officer Hanson to hold the husband, and he goes over to the wife. “Will you just do what he says?” Cameron urges. “You keep your filthy fucking hands off me!” she yells at Officer Ryan. “Stop talking!” her husband yells, when he sees Officer Ryan spin her around and slam her against the car. “That’s quite a mouth you have,” Officer Ryan says. Then he glances over at Cameron and says, nastily, “Of course you know that.” Reaction shot of Cameron shows how much this hurts. ““That’s what this is all about!” the wife says, “You thought you saw a white woman blowing a black man and that drove your little cracker ass crazy.” But Officer Ryan isn’t finished yet. He begins to frisk her. Officer Hanson checks the husband. “He’s clean.” Then Officer Ryan rubs his hand down along the woman’s body, holding on tight as he moves along her dress. He accuses the woman of performing fellatio on her husband while he was driving, “which is reckless endangerment, which is, by the way, a felony.” Reaction shots of Cameron as he watches Officer Ryan perform his methodical body search. Reaction shot of Christine as she responds to the pain Officer Ryan is inflicting. Officer Ryan moves his hand right up under her dress and appears to push beyond the skin. Reaction shot of Tandy X and then of her husband—both are trapped. “What do you think we should do, sir?” Officer Ryan asks innocently. Cameron reacts, humiliated, vanquished, and then his wife—hurt showing in her face. Back to Cameron: “Look, we’re sorry, and we would appreciate if you would just let us go with a warning. Please.” Reaction of Christine—she looks at her husband with disdain. Back to Cameron—he is nearly in tears. “Man’s apologizing, Tommy,” JX says. “I think we can let him go.” Officer Ryan walks away, back to the squad, turns and says, “You folks drive safe now.” Music changes to soprano chorus, as we see the couple return to their vehicle. Inside the Lincoln, Cameron reaches out to his wife, but she retreats—not accepting his gesture. Last shot is reaction shot of Officer Hanson before he returns to the squad. He looks defeated, stunned.
CHAPTER 5. A LITTLE ANGER
11. Insert CU of a door opening and closing—but not securely. Camera back to show an older woman, wearing a head scarf, calling to her husband. She yells that the door won’t shut. Back inside the store we see the Iranian-American father and his daughter, a woman in her 30s. She loads the ammunition in his gun and meanwhile he fumes, as usual, about “crazy people”—but now with his gun, he believes he can control these people. He walks away, feeling frustrated.
12. Close shot of Christine as she reaches for her phone at home. She is the same woman who was just pulled over with her husband Cameron by Officer Ryan. Cameron asks who she is calling. She wants to report the illegal behavior of the cop that stopped them for nothing and then humiliated them. “Do you have any idea how that felt—to have that pig’s hands all over me”—cut to her husband—“and you just stood there!” She throws the phone down. “What did you want me to do? Get us both shot?” She keeps complaining, and he wonders, “Maybe you’d have been satisfied just to be arrested. Cut away to a wide shot, showing the two in different sections of the glass doors to their bedroom. She complains that he was afraid of the negative publicity that would be a fallout from this encounter. He responds with an ironic voice: “You’ve finally got me figured out, because that’s exactly what I was worried about!” She accuses him of giving in to the cops because he would be worried that his friends at the studio would read about it in the paper the next morning “and realize he’s actually black!” He tells her to calm down, and she turns on him. “What I need is a husband who will not just stand there while I’m being molested!” He defends himself, and then he attacks her by saying if she had been arrested, then she might “have learned what it is really like to be black.” Then their dispute degenerates beyond name-calling to her view (he’s an Uncle Tom) and his view (she has a past of sexual promiscuity). She launches into an elaborate and over-the-top rendition of an Uncle Tom voice and concludes (in that voice), “and let me know the next time you want to finger fuck my wife!” He is stunned. “How the fuck do you say something like that to me?” He walks out of the bedroom. She gets in the last word.
CHAPTER 6. INVISIBLE AND IMPENETRABLE
13. Exterior shot of a white van arriving at a house. Cut to a shot of the interior of a small house. At the door is Daniel, the locksmith, the man we saw replacing the locks at the house of the District Attorney. He takes off his shoes quietly and then stops in at his daughter’s room. She’s not in her bed and the light is on. He goes over to the bed, kneels down, and raises the drop cover. There she is, under her bed, holding on to her teddy bear in a makeshift bed. She tells Dad she heard a truck backfire, and it reminded her of the sound of gunfire. Daniel lies down across from her and they talk about guns and moving out of the former neighborhood—where hearing gunfire was the usual experience. “You thinking about that bullet that came through your window?” He asks her if they should move again. “I like it here,” she says. “But if that bullet found out where we lived?” Dad says—and then he has another thought. The scene is shot POV/Reactions shots. The father says he was stupid to have forgotten something. Now she is curious. “When I was five, this fairy came into my room one night.” At first he didn’t believe she was a fairy. “She said she would prove it. She pulled out this invisible cloak and she ties it around my neck.” The fairy told him nothing could penetrate the cloak—not even bullets. She told me if I wore it, nothing would hurt me. So I did, and my whole life I never got shot, stabbed, nothing. And she told me I was supposed to give it to my daughter on her fifth birthday—and I forgot!” Note the soft music playing behind the scene. She gets out from under the bed, and he “ties” the cloak on her, doing a great pantomime. He stands back and asks her how it feels. She can’t feel it on her—and of course, that must mean it’s working. Note the strains of the main theme coming through on the soundtrack. He tucks her in bed, and then he says, “You leave it on all the time until you have a daughter, and when she turns five, you give it to her.” A tender moment. Outside her room, his beeper goes off, and he reacts as if he is tired, stressed, and would love to stay home and go to bed.
CHAPTER 7. A PERSONAL PROBLEM
14. We catch up with the two young African American men, Anthony and Peter. They are driving the stolen Lincoln Navigator and listening to rap music, and of course Anthony has a theory—that rap music is really the music of the oppressor. “Listen to it—nigger this and nigger that. Do you think white people go around calling each other honky all day long?” So Peter changes the radio station to Country Western music. Peter launches into his own rendition of a racist Country Western song and Anthony just keeps on dissertating about the social degeneration of hip hop compared to the good old days of the 1960s when Black Power was the thing thanks to people like Eldridge Cleaver. Each neglects to listen to the other, as the shots go in parallel editing form. Suddenly we cut to an exterior shot from their point of view and see a van parked by the side of the road. A man stands outside the driver’s side. Then reverse angle to a shot of the two inside the Lincoln. We hear a “bang,” like they hit something. Exterior view of the car as it stops suddenly. “What the fuck was that?” Anthony asks. Cut to the key to the van, dangling from the lock on the side of the door. The two get out of the car and look around. Peter checks under the front of the car and jumps back. “Shit! Man, we ran over a Chinaman!” Anthony has a hard time processing this fact. Finally Anthony looks under the truck. “Help me!” says the bloodied Asian man. Anthony and Peter argue about what to do about this situation. “If we leave this man here, he dies,” Peter says. Finally, Anthony gives in, and they reach under the truck and yank the man loose—as he cries out in pain.
15. Interior of a police station. Officer Hanson is addressing his commander, a Lieutenant on the force, and an African American man in his 50s. The Lieutenant says, “I understand. You think your partner is a racist prick, but you don’t want to disturb any bad feelings.” Officer Hanson tries to explain himself better, but the Lieutenant cuts him off. “You don’t mind if he’s a racist prick! You just don’t want him to ride in your car.” The young man says he will file a report. The Lieutenant is delighted. “I’m anxious to find out how an obvious bigot has remain undetected in this department for 17 years—eleven of which he was under my personal supervision—which doesn’t speak highly of my managerial skills! But that’s none of your concern.” The young officer suggests another approach. The Lieutenant has a quick comeback. “Now you’re saying he’s not a racist prick! You just don’t like him.” The young cop is thoroughly confused by now. So the Lieutenant helps him out. “I heard it was a case of uncontrollable flatulence. Not him—you! You’re requesting a one-man car.” This part of t he conversation as they walk through the hallway toward the exit. Finally t he Lieutenant levels with the young cop. “Just like I’m sure you understand how hard a black man has to get to be where I am in a racist fucking organization like the LAPD—and how easily that can be taken away. Now that being said, it’s your decision. You can put your career—and mine—on the line, or you can admit to having an embarrassing problem of a personal nature. He exits, and the camera stays on Officer Hanson as he reacts.
16. Exterior of a hospital emergency room entrance. Suddenly the Asian man, run over by the two young African American men, drops onto the sidewalk. Cut to the car racing away. Camera moves right and holds at a Nativity Scene set up outside the hospital.
CHAPTER 8. LOCKED AND LOADED
17. Insert CU of the door on the Iranian man’s store—with a new lock on the door. Cut to Daniel, the Latino locksmith we saw earlier—as he checks his work. He goes to the counter, where the Iranian man seems to be napping. This older man is the same fellow we saw in scene x, buying a gun, and later in scene y, when he discovered he needed to fix the lock on the back door to his shop. He tells him what he did—and he advises the store owner to fix the door. But the older man doesn’t understand what he is really saying—that the problem was not the lock as much as it was the door. Finally Daniel tries to explain it: he says slowly and clearly, “What you need is a new door.” The older man says, “How much?” But Daniel explains he doesn’t replace doors—he only fixes locks. Then we cut to a reaction shot of the older man who zeroes in on Daniel. “You’re trying to cheat me. Right?” He wonders if the locksmith has a “convenient” friend who replaces doors (a good scam). But Daniel insists he does not know someone who fixes doors. “So go and fix the lock, you cheater!” Reaction shot of Daniel as he shows some frustration. Cut to a wide shot of both men as Daniel hands him the bill and suggests, look, just pay for the lock “and I won’t charge you for my time.” Cut to another reaction shot of Daniel as the older man screams at him again. “Fix the fucking lock, you cheater!” Then more shouting at each other as the POV and reaction shots fly. “I’d appreciate it if you stop calling me names,” Daniel says. But the Iranian man won’t relent. Then the camera cuts to Daniel, drops down to show him wadding up the bill, move up to show him reacting, and then with a quick insert CU shows him tossing the paper into the trash nearby. “Have a good night,” he says, as he walks away. Reverse angle to show the Iranian-American man behind Daniel. The older man yells, “You come back here! You fix the lock!”
18. Now we catch up with Anthony and Peter, the two young African American men, and we find them at a chop shop, an illegal facility used to tear down cars and sell the parts on the black market. Anthony is arguing with the owner of the chop, the boss man, a white man with a heavy Middle European accent. The man explains, rather bluntly, that he can’t use the Lincoln Navigator because the blood on it (from Anthony running over the Asian man) could be traced back to this shop. The boss man tells a long story about watching the Discovery Channel and learning that the cops can find traces of blood in the most ingenious ways on any number of objects, including the upholstery in a Lincoln Navigator. Finally, the boss man leans down and looks into the open window of another stolen car—just brought in—and motions to Anthony to lean down and look through the other window. Anthony leans down and looks across to the boss man. “Do I look like I want to be on the Discovery Channel?” Anthony says, “No.” Back to the boss man. “Then get the fuck out of my shop.” Before they leave, Peter reaches into the Lincoln and grabs his St. Christopher statue off the dashboard.
19. Insert CU of a clock, reading 11:30, on a nightstand in a bedroom. We hear the heavy breathing of two people engaged in sexual intercourse. The phone rings. The woman says, “Don’t you answer that!” A man’s hand reaches into the shot and grabs the phone. We can see a police badge in the foreground. Wide shot shows Detective Waters on the phone, while his partner, Ria, lies under him. It’s his mother. “He’s not here, Mom. I’m not going to go looking for him. I can’t talk to you right now—I’m having sex with a white woman.” He hangs up. She throws him off—frustrated that he keeps answering the phone—when she knows it will only be his mother. Now she is frustrated that he referred to her as a white woman. “If I told her you were Mexican, it wouldn’t have pissed her off as much,” he says. She gets up, puts on as top, and says, “Why do you keep everybody at a certain distance, eh? Do you start to feel something and then panic?” He tries to calm her down. She starts to get dressed. She tells him, “What kind of man speaks to his mother that way?” He becomes defensive. “What do you know about my mother?” She tells him, “If I was your father, I’d kick your fuckin’ ass.” He nods, and he says, “Okay, I was raised badly.” He asks her to come back to bed with him. Ria picks up her badge and gun, turns to him, and says, “I’ll give you a lesson. How about a geography lesson? My father is from Puerto Rico. My mother is from El Salvador. Neither one of those is Mexico.” He reacts as he lights a cigarette. “The question is, ‘Who gathered all those remarkable cultures together and taught them all how to park their cars on their lawns?’” Offended by this stupid racist remark, she walks out and slams the door behind her.
CHAPTER 9. TAKING THE BUS
20. Officer Ryan, the LAPD officer, wakes up in the middle of the night in his bedroom. He gets up, hears the sound of his father, and goes down the hall to the bathroom. There is his father, a heavyset man, squatting on the toilet, and trying to pee. He asks his son for a hand. But when Officer Ryan pulls him up, and helps him exit the bathroom, suddenly the father stops and has to go right back to the bathroom. Obviously this old man has serious problems with a urinary tract infection as well as an inflamed prostate gland. Officer Ryan stands at the bathroom door and stares at this heap of a father struggling to pee. Then his father asks him to close t he door. Officer Ryan walks away from the bathroom and stands in the hallway, looking to the right in near-profile, as if thinking about the situation he and his father are in. Notice the music begins to play, with that mournful wail of a sound.
21. Cut to a wide shot of a street, and then to a close shot of a door—the door at the back of the older Iranian man’s shop. The music continues to play as the old man enters his shop, and discovers that someone has broken through the door. He walks around inside the shop—things are strewn all over after the burglary. Someone sprayed graffiti, “Rag Head,” (a racial slur against Arabs) on another door.
22. Exterior of District Attorney Richard Cabot’s office. He exits along with his assistant, the African American woman we saw earlier in his house, and they discuss the investigation into the shooting of the African American detective by another detective from the LAPD. Cut to a wide shot of the hallway, richly decorated in brass and gold, as we see the two figures tiny in the distance. He rattles off one order and/or request after another. He wants to see Detective Waters by 3:30 this afternoon before the D.A.’s 4:00 news conference.
23. We catch up with Anthony and Peter again. They are back in their neighborhood, and Anthony is holding forth on the evils of young black men who steal old ladies’ purses. He picks up on a quick encounter between Peter and another black man. “Only reason black people steal from their own is to terrify white people.” They get in their car, Anthony keeps his monologue going, and then the car won’t start.
24. At the house of Jean Cabot, the wife of the District Attorney. Maria, her maid, comes in. Jean looks depressed. She stands over the dishwasher. “Are these clean or dirty?” “Clean,” Maria says. “Just once I would like to wake up and find these dishes in the cabinet!” She slams the door of the dishwasher. “Si, seňora,” Maria says and gets out of her way.
25. We catch up again with the two young African American friends. Now that they are without car transportation, Anthony and Peter are walking down the street. “You’ve never seen me steal from a black person in your life!” Anthony says, as if defending himself. Suddenly he notices that Peter has turned around and is hailing the bus. Anthony is outraged. He would never ride the bus. But Peter wants to get on the bus rather than walking across town. Anthony stalks off, but now he has another cause to spout about. “You have no idea why they put those big windows on the sides of busses, do you? To humiliate the people of color who are reduced to riding on them!” Peter isn’t buying this idea. “You could feel the Staples center with what you don’t know!” That reminds Peter that the L.A. Kings, the hockey team, is playing a home game tonight. “You don’t like hockey!” Anthony screams, and walks off. “I love hockey,” Peter muses.
CHAPTER 10. RINGING FALSE
26. Close shot of Cameron yelling “Cut, print!” on a television or film set. He is the man who was driving the Lincoln Navigator that was stopped by Officer Ryan. Then Cameron walks off set, congratulates the African American actor for doing a good job, and is off for a cup of coffee. But one of the producers, a white man, follows him and has a question. “We need another take, buddy.” But Cameron thinks the first take was just fine. “This is going to sound strange, but is Jamal seeing a speech coach or something?” The camera circles around the two men so that it sets up Cameron’s POV shot of the producer. “Have you noticed that he’s talking a lot less black lately?” the producer says. Cameron laughs. This sounds absurd to him. But the producer won’t let it go. “In this scene he was supposed to say, ‘Don’t be talkin’ ‘bout that.’ And he changed it to: ‘Don’t talk to me about that.’” Reverse angle to show Cameron’s reaction. “You mean the audience won’t recognize him as being a black man?” He walks away as he says this, but the producer follows him. “Is there a problem, Cameron?” This stops Cameron in his tracks. “Excuse me?” So the producer repeats his line. Now we cut to a tight shot of Cameron, this time as he reacts to the producer’s hidden agenda. “No, we don’t have a problem.” Reverse angle. The producer says, “All I’m sayin’ is that it’s not his character. Eddie’s supposed to be the smart one—not Jamal. Right? You’re the expert here, but to me it rings false.” Long reaction shot of Cameron this time. “We’re gonna do it one more time!” he yells to the crew. “Thanks buddy,” the producer says. Cameron walks away and consults with his actor again.
27. Tight shot of a woman carrying a coffee cup and entering her office. The receptionist tells her she has a walk-in client, a Mr. Ryan. (That must be Officer Ryan). Reaction shot of Shaniqua Johnson shows her anxiety. Cut to a wide shot of Officer Ryan from her POV. She reacts in a tight shot and is ready to see the racist cop. “My name is Shaniqua Johnson,” she says loudly and distinctly. “I believe we spoke last night.” He apologizes for his behavior on the phone (when he was at the diner). She listens to his story. He tells her his Dad returned to see the doctor again—but no change yet. “Between you and me the man (the doctor) is an idiot.” She tells him his father can see a doctor outside the network. But Officer Ryan anticipates her response. He knows if the new doctor recommends prostate surgery, the plan won’t cover it unless the old doctor he has been seeing agrees with the new diagnosis. To Officer Ryan his father is trapped by the health care system. The scene is shot POV/Reaction, with the two sitting across from one another. Then Officer Ryan drops his load on her. “I can’t help looking at you without thinking about the five or six more-qualified men who didn’t get your job.” She reacts with: “It’s time for you to go.” But he’s not done yet. “I’m saying this because I really hope I’m wrong about you. I’m hoping that someone like yourself, someone who may have been given a helping hand, might have a little compassion for someone in a similar situation.” Her response: she calls security. He still isn’t finished. “You don’t like me? That’s fine. I’m a prick. My father doesn’t deserve to suffer like this! He was a janitor. He struggled his whole life, saved enough to start his own company, had 23 employees—all of them black—paid them equal wages when no one else was doing that. For 30 years he worked side by side with those men.” The shadow of the security man enters the frame. But Ms. Johnson holds up her hand—tells him to wait. “And then the City Council decides to give minority-owned companies preference in contracts. And overnight my father loses everything—his business, his home, his wife—everything. Not once does he blame you people (harsh reaction shot by Ms. Johnson). Now I’m not asking you to help me. I’m asking you to do this small thing for a man who lost everything so that people like yourself could reap the benefits.” Finally his fury is spent. Cut to a wide shot of the two, with the shadow of the security guard in the far left. Shaniqua Johnson gets the last word: “Your father sounds like a good man. And if he had come in here today, I probably would have approved this request.” Cut to tighter shots now. “But he didn’t come in. You did! And for his sake it’s a real shame!” She tells the guard, “Get him to hell out of my office!” Cut to Officer Ryan exiting the hallway.
CHAPTER 11. BROTHER’S KEEPER
28. A receptionist in the locksmith’s office gets a call from the older Iiranian American businessman—the one whose shop was ransacked after a burglary. C ut to the older man on the phone in his shop. His wife is trying to wipe off the graffiti on another door. Here comes their daughter. He mother turns to her daughter and says, “Look what they wrote. They think we’re Arab. When did Persian become Arab?” Reaction shot of the daughter. Suddenly she remembers the gun. She goes to her father, who is yelling at the receptionist on the phone, and demanding to be given the name of the locksmith. So the receptionist hangs up on him. Back in the store, the daughter is relieved when she finds the gun is still in the drawer with the ammunition.
29. Dissolve to show a photograph of a black couple, the picture probably taken in the 1950s. The camera tracks to the right and the music from the previous scene continues into this scene. Suddenly we see Detective Waters standing in his mother’s house. He looks at the drug paraphernalia on the table and spots his mother sitting out on the porch. She is wasted. We can see her through a small section of the open doorway on the right of the frame. He tells her to come in from the cold. He helps her into bed, and the first thing she says when she recognizes him is, “Did you find your brother?” He says no. She says, “I was doin’ real good.” Then he watches her (as we see him react), and then the shot returns to her as she says, “Did you find your brother?” He reacts as if it is the first time she said that. Cut to the mother—the angle canted, slightly off. “Tell him to come home,” she urges her son. “Tell him I’m not mad.” A last reaction shot of Detective Waters as he ponders his situation. Insert CU of the refrigerator door. Detective Waters’s hand opens it, and there is almost nothing inside it. And what is there is rotten. He returns to the car, where his partner waits for him. “Did you apologize to your mother?” “She wasn’t there,” he lies. She looks hard at him. She tells him that Internal Affairs called. “They found something in the Mercedes (the care driven by the African American detective killed by the white LAPD detective)
CHAPTER 12. UNINSURED
30. Back to the film set. Lunch break. Cameron looks to the side as a large door is opened from the sound stage. Right outside the sound stage stands his wife. Camera holds on Cameron for a second as he steels himself for this encounter. Then he turns, and it becomes a POV shot as he walks toward his wife. Cut to an exterior shot of the two outside the sound stage. She still wants to talk about their being pulled over the night before. She admits she has been pulled over before—just for being black. “But not like that! When that man was putting his hands on me—” Cut to his reaction shot as he struggles to calm her down. She just won’t let go of this. “I can’t believe you let him do that, baby!” Reaction shot of him—he looks trapped, desperate. “I was humiliated!” she tells him. “I couldn’t stand to see that man take away your dignity!” Now she is in tears. Reaction shot. He is struggling for composure. “That’s what happened.” He walks away from her, and she cries on and finally gives up and walks away.
31. Back to the ransacked store where the older Iranian-American man and his family are cleaning up the broken glass and debris. An insurance agent is standing at the counter and talking to his daughter. The insurance man is a Chinese American. “Has your father read his policy?” He explains to his father (with daughter translating) that the locksmith “told you to fix the door and you didn’t do so.” So the insurance man has to tell them that the insurance company has determined that nothing is being covered by his current policy. He will get no money to replace his damages. In other words, if he had fixed the door, he would have been covered. His response: “This store is all we have!” Reaction shot from his daughter as music comes up into the track. The father walks into another room with the garbage can. The insurance agent apologizes for their misfortune and leaves. The daughter goes to her father, talks in Farsi, obviously trying to give him solace, but the father walks away.
CHAPTER 13. TRUST
32. Exterior of the police station. Officer Hanson heads out with the other officers, and he spots his former partner, Officer Ryan, standing at his squad. He knows he has to face him sooner or later. “I just wanted to say good luck, and it was good riding with you,” Officer Ryan tells him. Looks like it’s going to go easy on Officer Hanson. But when the two men shake hands, Officer Ryan does not let go of Officer Hanson’s hand. He drops his load on him: “Wait till you’ve been doing it a little longer. You think you know who you are. You have no idea!” He walks away, and then sees his new partner, Gomez, and says, “You ready to roll, homey?” Officer Hanson reacts, and then gets in his car and calls in a radio check (standard operating procedure). Of course, the dispatcher has a great time pretending to fart at every other word—to tease Officer Hanson about his “supposed problem” of flatulence.
33. Detective Waters and his partner, Rhea, stop in at a police holding area, and they check out what was inside the Mercedes—a ton of money hidden inside the supposed spare tire. The two react to this information.
34. Suddenly we hear the sound of a Farsi voice, singing a haunting melody, as we cut to a bird’s eye POV of the sound stage. Then cut to Cameron as he watches his actors at work. He looks preoccupied. The singing continues, as we cut to the old Iranian-American man sitting outside his shop. The old man throws out the garbage in the dumpster, exits, but then returns and ransacks the garbage bag and finds the locksmith’s bill that was wadded up and thrown away. Now he has the man’s name.
35. The music continues into the next scene, where we see Officer Ryan and his partner Gomez stop on the highway. The camera follows Officer Ryan as he runs past a long line of cars toward an accident scene. The music that continues from the last scene shifts to a piano transition as Officer Ryan runs toward an overturned car on the side of the road. We see him, from inside the car, as he looks inside and figures out what to do next. Then we hear the voice of the Farsi singer as she continues the melody. He calls to the woman and she blurts out a response. She is hung up in her seat belt inside the car. Gomez comes up to be with Officer Ryan, who tells him to get a fire extinguisher and work on the fire in the other car in the accident. “I can’t breathe,” the woman says. Officer Ryan slides inside the car to get a closer view of her situation. He sneaks a peak out the windshield and sees the other car nearby and a small fire in that car. As he slides closer to the woman, we can see her turn her head and now can see that she is Christine, the wife of the film director, and the same woman he violated in the traffic stop near the beginning of the film. “Stay away from me!” she screams. Then he recognizes her (and as the music continues) she screams, “Not you! Not you! Don’t touch me!” She is nearly hysterical. She begins to strike at him. “Not you! Anybody else!” Finally he explodes: “Lady, I’m not going to fuckin’ hurt you!” Reaction shots of both. He continues. “I’m not going to hurt you. But there’s nobody here yet, and that’s gasoline there (and he points at the gas dripping from the engine), and we need to get you out of here right away.” She begins to calm down. “I need to reach across your lap,” he says. “Can I do that please?” She agrees. As he reaches across, he pulls her dress down her legs (as a gesture of his sincerity), and suddenly we see her face above his face—an intimate space they share—and he says, “I’m going to get you out. Look at me! I’m going to get you out!” Then he has to use his knife to cut the seat belt.” The music continues. “Look at me! Everything’s going to be fine!” Suddenly a cut to under the other car in the accident—as gasoline seeps under the engine and is lit by falling sparks. Exterior shot of Gomez with the fire extinguisher. He turns and yells, “Ryan!” and runs toward the Mercedes. Suddenly the flames move toward Christine’s car and envelop it. Inside the smoke-filled car, Officer Ryan struggles to free Christine and pull her out. Suddenly Gomez and another cop grab Officer Ryan’s legs and pull him right out of the car—leaving Christine behind. We see him pulled out (from her POV), and then see her hysterical reaction—left alone in the car to die in the fire. Then Officer Ryan frees himself from his rescuers and dives right back through the window to grab Christine again—we see it from her POV. He grabs her arms and yells for the cops to pull him out again as the singer continues the melody line of the music. After the cops pull t he two free and help them move away from the overturned car, it explodes in a fireball. Cut to a tight shot of Officer Ryan holding Christine. Someone wraps a blanket around her, and then he holds her head to his chest as she wails. Suddenly a woman officer and another officer pull Christine away from him and take her to the ambulance. They leave Officer Ryan behind and alone. Two shots show Christine reacting as she looks back toward the man who rescued her. Reaction of Officer Ryan and then a cut to that wider shot of him, the fire truck behind him, blue sky and smoke behind him, as he sits on a knee by the side of the road and tries to process what just happened to him. The music ends.
CHAPTER 14. ON A GUT LEVEL
36. Detective Waters and the District Attorney’s assistant enter an office at City Hall, where they are greeted by Mr. Flanagan, and a member of the District Attorney’s staff. They meet in an expansive board room with an immense wooden table and leather chairs. But no one sits down. Flanagan lays it out—why shouldn’t they throw the book at the white detective who shot the black detective—after all, this is the third black man he has shot. But Detective Waters says not so fast. They found $300,000 in the trunk of the black detective’s car. Of course, the car was registered to a woman—who just happened to have left town today. Flanagan plays dumb: maybe the black detective didn’t know the money was in the car. Detective Waters laughs at this stupid remark, but then he straightens up as he reacts, because he can tell that Flanagan is up to something. So Flanagan asks the District Attorney’s assistant to leave the room for a minute so he can have a one-on-one with Detective Waters. Alone, Flanagan asks, “Who knows?” Detective Waters tells him. Now Flanagan retreats a few feet to the other side of the table. “I don’t see a problem!” But Detective Waters doesn’t buy it. “When the coroner’s report comes back tomorrow, it’s going to say Lt. Lewis (the dead man) was coked out of his head.” Under his breath Flanagan blurts out, “Fuckin’ black people!” Detective Waters asks, “What did you just say?” Well, this launches Flanagan on a long dissertation about the sociological reasons so many black men are incarcerated. Finally he concludes, “It’s got to get to you, on a gut level—as a black man—that they just can’t keep t heir hands out of the cookie jar!” Then Flanagan sits down. Then he says, “You and I know that’s not the truth. But that’s the way it always plays, doesn’t it? And assholes like Lewis just keep feeding the flames. It’s got to get to you.” Detective Waters, still standing, looks down at him and asks, “What did you say you do for the District Attorney?” Flanagan runs with it and suddenly refers to Detective Waters’s younger brother, who did some time in prison. Detective Waters is offended. “Don’t act like you know something about me.” But Flanagan will not be deterred. He offers up two scenarios, an obvious ploy to make the point he wants to make. What’s better for young black men? A drug-taking cop or a fallen hero? Those are his opposing views of the meaning of Lewis’s death. Now Detective Waters sits down across from Flanagan. “Why don’t you cut through the bullshit and just tell me what it is you want.” So Flanagan lays it out, and you just know something like this was going to happen. There is an opening in the District Attorney’s office for a lead investigator. “The district attorney wants to send the right message to the community.” “And the right message is to show them this black boy he just bought? Well, fuck you very much, but thanks for thinking of me.” Detective Waters gets up and heads for the door. “Actually, we were thinking of you—” Then he stops and turns around. Cut to a wide shot of Flanagan, who tosses a dossier onto the table and says, “—until we saw that. It’s your brother’s file. Twenty-something years old and already three felonies. Three strikes—that kid’s getting life for stealing a car. Christ, that’s a shitty law.” So they DO know something about Detective Waters—in fact, they have him in their vise-lock grip, don’t they? As Detective Waters comes back to look at the file, Flanagan says, “He had every opportunity you had.” Now he sits down again. “Fucking black people, huh?” Flanagan says—this time very distinctly. Cut to a two-shot of the characters. Detective Waters has figured out the ploy. “All I need to do to make this disappear is to frame an innocent man.” In other words, if he plays ball with the District Attorney’s office the outstanding warrant against his brother will disappear—and his third strike will be reduced to a second strike. Flanagan has the comeback for this: “What are you—the fucking defender of all things white? We’re talking about a white man who shot three black men, and you’re arguing with me that maybe we’re not being fair to him.” Detective Waters doesn’t respond to this. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe Lewis got exactly what was coming to him. Or maybe—stoned or not—just being a black man was enough to get him killed. There was no one there to see him get shot so maybe we could get this wrong. Maybe that’s what happened with your brother. Maybe we got it wrong. Maybe Lewis isn’t the only one who deserves the benefit of the doubt. You’re the one closest to all this. You need to tell us.” Cut to a close shot of Detective Waters as he ponders his decision. “What does your gut tell you?” Detective Waters stares at him.
37. Then a cut to Detective Waters and the District Attorney’s assistant waiting outside an office. Here comes Richard Cabot, the District Attorney. He goes up to Detective Waters and asks, “So what do I tell them?” Detective Waters answers, “Given Detective Conklin’s history, it’s pretty clear what happened last night. “Okay,” Cabot says, and walks away with his assistant, leaving Detective Waters standing alone in a wide shot under the arches of the magnificent hallway of City Hall. Cut to a close shot of him as he reacts to his decision. Cut to a wide shot of the District Attorney entering a conference room to announce at his 4:00 news conference. We see the doors being closed by a guard, and so we never enter that space. But we hear Cabot’s voice as he thanks the people for thinking of them after the carjacking of the night before, and then he turns his attention to events that took place later in the evening, when a veteran black officer, and an active member of the black community was gunned down by a fellow officer. The door slams shut.
CHAPTER 15. BREAKING POINT
38. Musical transition to the next scene, which shows a car pulling up in a suburban neighborhood. Inside is the Iranian-American shop owner, and he has found where Daniel, the Latino locksmith, lives. He watches the street and sees several kids returning home from school. We can see Daniel’s daughter greeted by her mother. The old man picks up his revolver and waits for Daniel to return.
A Lincoln Navigator pulls up to a stop sign. But it doesn’t move away. Camera in on Cameron, the film director, as he sits inside his car and fiddles with his wedding ring. Why is he sitting here? This is not his neighborhood. Suddenly two young African American men, holding guns, walk up toward the car. You’re right—it’s Anthony and Peter, and they are ready to hijack their second Lincoln Navigator in two days. But Cameron jumps out of the car and assaults Anthony, who screams, “You want to get killed, Nigger?” That really inflames Cameron. “Say it again!” he screams as he kicks him on the ground. Peter tries to stop him by advancing on him and pointing the gun in his face. But Cameron jumps on him and begins to pummel Anthony. “Stop talking and shoot,” Anthony screams. Then Peter jumps onto Cameron, who throws him off. Peter runs for it, and when Anthony tries to scramble away, Cameron yells, “Where you going man?” Anthony hops in the front seat, passenger side, and Cameron jumps into the driver’s seat. Now Anthony still has his gun out, but Cameron isn’t paying any attention to it. “Get out of the car!” Anthony yells. “Fuck you!” says Cameron. Now the cops are back after driving past and they are in hot pursuit. Another car joins the chase—the car driven by Officer Hanson. He calls in the license to his dispatcher, and then realizes that it is the same license as the car Officer Ryan and he stopped the night before. Meanwhile, back inside the Lincoln, poor Anthony is flailing around with his gun, screaming at Cameron, but Cameron screams, “It’s my fucking car!” He has gone over the edge. Then Cameron grabs the gun out of Anthony’s hand. “It’s my fucking gun now!” Finally the Lincoln is cornered and pulls over in the driveway of a suburban house. A large inflatable Santa sits in the yard, and the garage door is beautifully painted with an image of the Nativity scene.
CHAPTER 16. THREATENING GESTURES
The police have him cornered. They have drawn their guns are in position. They yell at him to throw the keys out of the window. Anthony hunkers down in the front seat. Finally, after a long pause, Cameron decides it’s his time now. He gets out of the car, and the cops have no idea what they are in for. “You fuckin’ want me! Here I am you pig fuck!” Then a reverse angle as he actually walks right up to the police officer, who tells him to lie down on the ground. “No, you lie down on the ground and spread your arms and legs!” Cut to Officer Hanson—who realizes this guy has gone over the edge. “You get on my knees and suck my mother fucking dick!” The cops keep threatening him and he keeps threatening them right back. “You want to see a threatening gesture! I’ve got a threatening gesture for you.” In fact, he is just about ready to pull Anthony’s pistol out of his waistband—and be shot dead by at least two of the three cops there. But suddenly Officer Hanson jumps out from behind his door and yells, “I know this man! It takes some convincing, but finally the other two cops let Officer Hanson approach Cameron and talk to him. “Do you want to die here? Is that what you want? Because these guys really want to shoot you. And the way you’re acting, they will be completely fucking justified. “Fuck me!” Cameron says, his face just a mask of self-destruction. “Fuck me? You’re the one who’s fucked here.” Again he has to deal with the nervous cop from the other squad car. But finally he persuades this man to lower his firearm. He comes back to Cameron. “Are you starting to understand the situation?” Cameron stares at him. “What do you want from me?” Officer Hanson explains, “Unless you think your wife is going to be better off with a husband who has a bloody stump for a head, I want you sit down on that curb and put your hands on your head until I speak with these officers.” But Cameron moves away from him and says he is not “putting my hands on my head for nobody.” Officer Hanson yields the point and asks him simply to stand where he is and keep his hands in plain sight. “I can do that,” Cameron admits. So Officer Hanson returns to confer with the first cop. Ryan pleads his case. “I need this favor.” He tells the cop the guy is clean. “I need to let him go with a warning.” When the cop pushes him on this point Ryan says he will give him a “harsh warning.” The cop yields and walks back to his squad. Officer Hanson walks right up to Cameron and says, “You’ve been warned. Do you understand me? Now Cameron has tears in his eyes. He is a broken man. “You want something from me? Because I’m right here.” “I’m trying to help you,” Officer Hanson says. “I didn’t ask for your help, did I?” Officer Hanson reacts and says, “Go home.” “That I can do,” Cameron says, as he retreats to the car. Inside the car, Anthony looks like he has seen a vision of something he cannot process. Cameron drives away as transitional music begins, and then the camera stays on the reaction shot of Officer Hanson at his squad car. Then cut to the Lincoln stopping at a stop sign somewhere later. Cameron hands Anthony his gun, and then he delivers his advice. Cut to close shot of Cameron: “You embarrass me. You embarrass yourself.” Anthony steps out of the car. Cut to a wide shot of the street. Cue a new musical line, a simple melody, 1, 2 and 3, 4, and 1, 2, and 3, 4.
CHAPTER 17. A REALLY GOOD CLOAK
39. That musical line continues into the next scene, a POV shot viewed through a rear view mirror. Suddenly a white van appears in the rear view mirror. Reaction shot of the Iranian American man inside, waiting to ambush Daniel, the locksmith. Inside the house we can see a small Christmas tree, and the little daughter runs up to the window and yells to Mom in the kitchen—“Daddy’s home.” Outside, Daniel gets out of the van, and the old man gets out of his car. Cut to the POV shot of the old man, gun in hand, approaching Daniel, as the music kicks into a more defined beat—and suddenly the old man is pointing a gun at Daniel at point-blank range. The little girl goes to the screen door, and her father yells at her to stay inside. The old man keeps yelling, “Give me my money!” Daniel doesn’t understand what he really wants—he offers him money in his wallet, but the old man slaps it away. Then the daughter runs outside, after telling her mother that Daddy “doesn’t have it—he doesn’t have the invisible cloak!” She runs outside, into a white light, then outside we see her running toward her father, and she jumps between the two men just as the old man fires his revolver. Reaction shot of her mother as the music crescendos, and then a magnificent reaction shot of her father—his mouth open wide in grief--as he holds her in his arms. Then more shots: the old man reacts, the mother almost falls to the ground in grief, a wide shot of t he three from behind the screen door, back to the close shot of the father grieving, his mouth closing now, and the back of his daughter’s head in the right of the screen, and then the old man reacting again, then the mother, and back to the key shot of the father and the girl until we hear under the music the girl say, “It’s okay Daddy. He can’t believe it. “I’ll protect you,” she says. He moves back to look at her. She isn’t dead after all. He can’t believe it. He holds her up, looks under her clothes front and back. There is no bullet hole. Daniel looks at the old man and walks back to the house—holding his daughter in his arms. She turns to her father and whispers in his ear, “It’s a really good cloak!” Now Daniel is crying tears of joy as they enter the house. The music comes down as we see three shots of the old man standing alone on the sidewalk outside. Then he puts his gun in his pocket and leaves.
CHAPTER 18. HAPPENSTANCE
40. Detective Waters enters his mother’s house. She is laid out on the sofa. He restocks her refrigerator. Then cut to the Cabot home, and we see Jean Cabot upstairs. She is talking to a friend, Carol. She summarizes the myriad of ways she has been feeling angry lately. She sums it up: “I just thought I would wake up this morning and feel better. But I was still mad. And I realized that it had nothing to do with my car being stolen. I wake up like this every morning. I’m angry all the time and I don’t know why.” But suddenly she gets a sense that Carol needs not to listen to this anymore. So she ends the conversation. But when she starts down the steps, she slips and falls down half a flight of steps. Music up as the high angle shows her sprawled on the steps—obviously in pain. Camera back as the chorus of soprano voices continues.
CHAPTER 19. MISCOMMUNICATION
41. Music continues over into the next scene, shots of the traffic on the streets. We can see Peter trying to hitch a ride. Cut to a shot of Officer Ryan driving his car. He stops at a stop sign and seems to be intrigued with something to his right. He does a double take, but then hears a car horn and starts up again. Cut to a rural scene of Peter hitching a ride. Who gives him the ride? It’s Officer Hanson driving home in his personal car. They drive off, and they make chitchat. “This isn’t exactly pick up a brother territory.” Then Peter comments on the country western music playing on Officer Hanson’s radio. “I’m starting to get it,” he says. But Officer Hanson is suspicious. He asks, “What was going on in the Valley tonight?” Peter says, “Ice skating.” Officer Hanson is suspicious. “When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a goalie.” “Come on,” Officer Hanson says. “You think that’s funny or something?” Another dead-end in their attempts at conversation. Then Peter spies the St. Christopher statue on the car dashboard. Amazing! We know he has a similar St. Christopher statue in his pocket. He begins to laugh. “Something else funny!” Now Officer Hanson is really suspicious. “People, man,” Peter says. “People like me?” Now Peter backs off and says, “I’m not laughing at you,” and then chuckles again (about seeing that statue). Suddenly Officer Hanson says the ride is over. “Come on, man. Keep driving. I said I’m not laughing at you!” Back to Officer Hanson. “And I’m not telling you to get the fuck out of my car?” They argue a little bit more, and then Peter says, “You want me to show you? I’ll show you.” Reaction shot of Officer Hanson. “Get your hands out of your pocket.” Spoken like a cop. But Peter doesn’t catch his tone. “Put your hands where I can see them,” he says again in his cop as authority voice. But Peter is angry now. “Who the fuck do you think you’re talkin’ to?” Then he adds, “You want to see what’s in my hand? I’ll show you what’s in my fucking hand!” He reaches for his St. Christopher statue, and Officer Hanson reaches for his service revolver. Cut to an exterior shot of the car, from the rear. The interior of the car lights up momentarily with a burst of light and the sound of a bullet. Then back inside t he car, Peter sits, his head down, blood dripping out of his mouth. He looks at Officer Hanson as if to say, “Why did you do that?” Reaction shot of Officer Hanson. Back to Peter, and his head drops down as he dies. Insert CU of his hand, which unfolds, showing the St. Christopher medal inside the palm. Officer Hanson reacts with horror at what he sees. He pushes the body out of the car, gets out, and kneels over the dead body. Fade to black.
CHAPTER 20. HUMAN CARGO
42. The scene comes in as a crane shot, moving the camera down to show the horizon of the city lights. We have been here before. We hear voices repeating dialogue from an earlier scene. Detective Waters is walking over to check out the crime scene that he was viewing earlier in the film. High angle of the scene. “What have we got?” Detective Waters asks, and the cop says, “Dead kid.” Cut to an insert CU of a tennis shoe—the same one we saw earlier. Then a shot of Cheadle, kneeling down, and wiping his eyes—same as before. He looks up and sees something. Cut this time to a police photographer taking a picture of the dead man, Peter, obviously Detective Waters’ brother, because of the amazing reaction shot that follows. So all trails have led us to this moment.
43. Cut to an exterior scene of a street with a bus pulling over. The music from the scene before continues—and it’s the same music we heard earlier with the Farsi singer. Behind one of the big windows sits Anthony, who is taking the bus for the first time in a long time. He looks around at the various people on the bus this late at night. Suddenly he spots something outside the car, and he gets off the bus. Insert CU of keys in the door of a van. This is the same van that was parked at the side of the road and struck by Anthony while driving the first Lincoln Navigator. He starts the van right up and drives away.
44. The music continues, and we cut to a distraught Chinese woman running down a hospital hallway. She is taken to her husband’s room. And he is the “Chinaman” that was run over by Anthony and Peter when they were in the first Lincoln Navigator. He is all bandaged up and happy to see her. He asks her to fetch something from the locker in his room. It is a check. She holds it up. “Cash it right away!” he says in their native language. She nods, her eyes wide.
45. Cut to the interior of the chop shop we saw earlier, and there is the boss man, the Middle European fellow, and now Anthony has delivered him the van—and will take any price for it. But an attendant has opened the back of the van, and he calls the boss man over. What is inside? It’s a human cargo, primarily Thai and Cambodian refugees smuggled into the country. “I’ll take the van, and I’ll take them, too,” the boss man says. He even tells Anthony he will give him $500 a head and then sell them for much more to brokers. “You can keep the van.” Anthony reacts.
CHAPTER 21. THINGS TO DO
46. Ria, Detective Waters’ partner, is waiting at the hospital, while behind her a drama unfolds. Detective Waters shows his mother her dead son Peter, and the woman drops to her knees and wails with grief. Detective Waters puts his arms around her to console her. The Farsi singer continues as the music reaches its crescendo. The nurse walks out and past them. The nurse is the Iranian American’s daughter we have seen in several earlier scenes. She goes out to the hallway and calls her father. The music slows and becomes lower in volume. Detective Waters helps his mother sit down on a bench. He sits next to her and says, “I promise I’m going to find out who did this, Mama.” “I already know,” his mother says. Cut to close shot of her. “You did.” Reverse angle, from the mother’s POV, as camera moves in every so slowly on Detective Waters’ face. “I asked you to find your brother but you were busy. We weren’t much good to you anymore, were we?” Camera keeps closing in on him as she tells him off. He tries to speak, but she cuts him off—back to that CU of her. “I just want to wait with my baby.” Reaction shot of Detective Waters—camera tracking in—as he exits the frame. Reaction shot of Ria in the background. As Detective Waters walks away, his mother, behind him and on the right half of the frame, tells him, “My little boy came home—while I was sleeping. He brought me groceries—last thing he did. (Of course, it was Detective Waters who brought her the groceries.) Reaction shot of Detective Waters as he turns and walks away. Cut to Ria, reacting, and then Detective Waters walks right past her—deep into his own grief—and walks toward the camera at low angle.
47. Interior of the shop owned by the Iranian American man. Finally the music that ran through several scenes ends. She finds her father sitting behind the counter and holding the gun. “What did you do?” He smiles at her and says, “I shoot a little girl.” The daughter is shocked. “No, she’s okay,” he says. “The gun shoot her but she’s okay. Nothing happened.” Then he refers to the little girl as his angel. “She came to protect me—to protect us!” The father hands her the gun. “Take this.” He tells her, “Everything is okay.” She gets up and puts the gun into her bag and then reaches into the shelf to get the box of bullets. We see t he box in an insert CU—and on the side of the red box is written: “ Westminster, .38 Special, Black Powder Blanks. Full Loads.” That explains why the girl did not get shot. The father did not know he was shooting blanks.
CHAPTER 22. CONNECTIONS
48. High angle of the atrium at City Hall (decorated with a huge Christmas tree). Rick Cabot, the District Attorney, walks by and answers his cell phone. It’s his wife Jean, lying in bed at home. She tells him she sprained her ankle falling down the stairs. She tells him she tried to call him earlier—but got no answer—and no answer from his aide either. She tells him that their maid, Maria, drove her to the emergency room. But she’s okay now. “Carol (the friend she was talking to on the phone earlier) was the only one who was home, but she said she couldn’t come get me because she was getting a massage.” Then she admits, “She’s been my friend for 10 years.” He tells her he will be home soon. “I love you.” Back to him, “I love you, too,” he seems to say reluctantly. Then he looks over to his omnipresent administrative aid, and you have to wonder what that look means. Jean hangs up the phone. Back to her husband. That look continues—and he turns around (and then a cut to) and we see them in a wide shot at the door of the elevator. He enters and she does not—as he heads for the parking garage.
Then the maid, Maria, comes into the bedroom with some tea for Jean. As Maria helps her sit up, Jean suddenly embraces Maria, and she does not let go. Reverse angle to show Jean’s reaction, and she says, “Do you want to hear something funny? You’re the best friend I’ve got.” Camera in slightly.
49. Suddenly we hear a female singer, singing “Thought you had—all the answers—” as the embrace continues. The song continues into the next scene—which shows Officer Hanson burning his personal vehicle at some abandoned lot—burning it to get rid of the evidence that he shot Peter. Then he walks away.
The song continues as we see a brief scene of Officer Ryan helping his father in the bathroom, and then in another brief scene we see Jack Cabot, the D.A., locking the door to his house, and then looking up at his reflection in the glass—and the shot cuts to an exterior shot of him.
The music continues as we see an interior scene of the bedroom at Daniel’s house—with his wife lying in bed and holding their little daughter, and Daniel standing at the window, looking out into the night and wondering at what happened just six hours ago.
CHAPTER 23. L. A. SNOWFALL
The music continues as we see a shot of Cameron driving home that night. He notices it is SNOWING in Los Angeles. He stops and gets out to be touched by some of the snowflakes. Then he spots the burning car of Officer Hanson in the abandoned lot nearby, and he walks over there and actually throws a piece of wood onto the bonfire. Some young guys are dancing around the car. Cameron looks relaxed and content. His cell phone rings—it’s Christine, his wife. He answers the call. She is sitting up on the bed in her bathrobe. “I love you,” he says. Cut to a close shot of Christine. She is crying. She smiles through her tears.
Back to the scene of Peter’s murder. Detective Waters is standing there and looking around. Suddenly he spots something on the side of the road. He reaches down and finds Peter’s St. Christopher statue. He picks it up and reacts to what he holds in his hand. He brings the statue up to his face and just keeps thinking about things.
50. The song begins to end slowly, with the singer’s last lines, as we cut to an exterior of a street corner in Chinatown. Anthony gets out of the van, opens the back doors, and orders the illegal refugees out. They come out slowly—scared—and begin to melt into the crowd. As the last chords of the song fade away, cut to a reaction shot of one of the refugees, his face filthy, as he stands before a shop. Reverse angle to show him responding to the multitude of goods in this one shop. He is awestruck by what he sees. Anthony gives one of the refugees $40 and tells him to buy some food for everyone. When the guy walks away, Anthony mutters, “Dopey fucking Chinaman.” Then he gets back in the van, sits there for a second, and can’t refrain from smiling at the madness of what he has just experienced in one day.
51. The music comes up, this time an upbeat guitar, as the van pulls away, and then two cars collide (rear ender) in the foreground of the frame. Suddenly the driver of the car that was hit is outside and yelling at the other driver. The angry driver is Shaniqua Johnson, the woman we saw working on Officer Ryan’s father’s case. As she screams, the camera moves back, and then cut to a bird’s eye POV of the scene as the madness continues. The male singer continues with this upbeat contemporary song. As the camera moves upwards, we can see snowflakes falling from the sky onto the cold blue-gray scene below.
CHAPTER 24. END CREDITS
Film resource written by Robert Yahnke
Copyright, Robert E. Yahnke, © 2009
Professor, Univ. of Minnesota
Request from the author permission to reprint this resource--for educational use only