Stephen Metcalfe

Initiative

A Screenplay excerpt by Stephen Metcalfe
All Rights Reserved

BLACK SCREEN

Title 1:

The Balkans. The crossroads between Eastern and Western Europe.

Title 2:

Balkanization. The tendency to violently splinter into rival entities.

Title 3:

To Balkanize. To fuck things up completely.

EXT. THE BALKANS – DAY

A desolate mountain landscape of rock, pine and snow. Gun metal grey sky. Bitter cold. Flurries in the air.

Title 4:

January, 1999. The border between Serbian controlled

Montenegro and Kosovo. In six months the NATO bombing of

Serbia will begin.

Men, women and children move up the mountain road. More

and more of them. Inadequately dressed; carrying what

belongings they could grab before being evicted from their

homes.

EXT. A CUSTOMS BORDER CROSSING – DAY

Still more refugees huddle, waiting. Armed border guards

slowly and contemptuously process them through. With a

honking of horns, a truck approaches from the Montenegro

side and stops at the customs crossing. The driver and his

passenger are cheerfully greeted by the guards. Money

exchanges hands – bottles of liquor are passed over.

Refugees move aside as the truck proceeds on.

DRIVER

(in Serbian)

Pigs.

FURTHER DOWN THE MOUNTAIN –

Farmland. Refugees scatter as the truck passes. It’s snowing harder. The driver curses the weather, concerned.

And then –

Through the beating wipers, he sees a group of armed men

standing in the middle of the road, blocking the way.

It’s a squadron of American soldiers – SFOR, NATO’s multi-

national police force in the Balkans. Lieutenant HAYDEN

BRANTLEY, early 20’s, unshaven and cold like his men,

raises a hand for the vehicle to stop. The driver brakes.

Brantley doesn’t flinch as the truck skids to a stop,

inches from him. He moves to the window. Brantley may be

tired and cold but he is clear-eyed and focused.

BRANTLEY

Came pretty close to those folks

back there.

The driver is gesturing, talking angrily.

INTERPRETER

He says you are crazy, he could

have killed you.

BRANTLEY

Tell him to open the back of the

truck, please.

The interpreter translates. The driver responds –

INTERPRETER

He says –

BRANTLEY

Fuck myself, yeah, I got that.

INTERPRETER

He says you have no right to stop

him.

BRANTLEY

Tell him to learn to drive.

White, Rodriguez, you’re with me.

He and two men move to the rear of the truck. The driver

jumps out and follows, still cursing angrily –

TO –

White breaks the lock on the back doors with the haft of

his rifle. He and Rodriguez swing the doors open. The

driver is protesting. In the truck are wooden cases.

TO –

A case hits the grounrd and splits open. Brantley rips

back boards to reveal automatic weapons.

BRANTLEY

Who are these for, huh? Heard of

the Dayton Accords? Tell this

asshole he’s under arrest.

INTERPRETER

You don’t have authority to –

BRANTLEY

Tell him, goddamit!

CORPORAL

(staring)

Lieutenant!!

Brantley turns – and freezes –

TO –

They appear like phantoms out of the falling snow. At

least 40 men followoing a jeep. Serb para-militaries.

Half soldier, half Hell’s Angel. All dead eyed and armed

to the teeth.

Breath turns to vapor in the air. Brantley’s men grip

their weapons tighter. Rodriguez clicks his safety off.

BRANTLEY

Easy.

The jeep comes to a stop. The door of a jeep opens. A man

gets out. He is Brantley’s age; handsome. His is long

dark coat would look good on a London street. His boots

crunch on the snow. He smiles; speaks with accented

English.

PARA-MILITARY LEADER

You have something that belongs to

us.

Two men. Two companies. Forty against eight. Impending

death in the frigid air.

PARA-MILITARY LEADER

Don’t be stupid.

BRANTLEY

(quietly)

Stand down.

Brantley’s men lower their weapons.

PARA-MILITARY LEADER

Good. Good.

He calls out orders to his men. A group of them quickly

move forward, guns ready. The driver is ordered back into

his truck. He smirks as he passes Brantley.

PARA-MILITARY LEADER

You see? We have no quarrel with

Americans.

He look at the man who stands next to Brantley.

PARA-MILITARY LEADER

But you, you are Serb, yes?

The man – the interpreter – nervously nods.

PARA-MILITARY LEADER

You are a traitor.

And the gun is out and he fires. This time Brantley does

flinch as his face is splattered with blood and brains.

Turning, the leader thrusts his pistol into Brantley’s

face. Brantley has no doubt he’s going to fire.

PARA-MILITARY LEADER

Not your country. Not your war.

As the truck passes, he abruptly lowers the gun. He turns

away. He gets in the jeep. The jeep circles and follows

the truck. Beneath the interpreter’s head, blood is

spreading, red on frozen white. Brantley stares as the

jeep is lost in the falling snow.

EXT. AN URBAN STREET – NIGHT

It’s been raining. The concrete is slick black. The

buildings are old and nondescript. This a neighborhood due

for either a comeback or demolition. A nondescript sedan

makes it’s way down the deserted street.

Titles: Present day.

The sedan comes to a stop at the curb, near an ally

entrance. The engine is turned off. A man wearing a

raincoat gets out of the car. He reaches back into the

passenger’s seat and picks up a duffle. He turns for the

alley.

INT. ALLEY – NIGHT

The sound of footsteps on concrete as the man comes down

the alley. The space opens into a courtyard of overflowing

dumpsters and razor-wire fencing. The man stops, looks

left, looks right.

MAN IN RAINCOAT

Hello?

He turns quickly as –

TO –

A man holding a high caliber revolver steps out from behind

one of the dumpsters.

BRANTLEY

Far enough!

The years have not been kind to Brantley. His face is cold

and unshaven, his eyes cruel. Two other armed men move

out of the shadows – vicious looking white trash. One of

them holds a young woman. She is gagged with duct tape,

her hands are bound; her eyes are wide with terror.

BRANTLEY (cont’d)

Drop the duffle. Hands. Keep’m

up.

The man with the duffle does so. Brantley nods at one of

the armed men. The man moves forward. He frisks the man

in the raincoat and levels his pistol at the man’s head.

Brantley nods at man holding the girl. He pushes her

towards Brantley who grabs her. He moves forward and takes

the duffel.

BRANTLEY

Open it.

He does. Shows Brantley the stacks of bills inside. They

don’t nearly fill the duffle.

BRANTLEY

Where’s the rest?

MAN IN RAINCOAT

Give me my sister, you’ll get the

other half.

Brantley puts the gun barrel underneath the girl’s chin.

BRANTLEY

Maybe I’ll give you half your

sister.

MAN IN RAINCOAT

.. it’s in the car.

BRANTLEY

Get it.

The man nods, starts to run away. PHWOOM! – flood lights

come on. There are silhouettes of armed men on the roof –

UNIT LEADER

FBI! You’re under arrest!

As Brantley and the other kidnappers fall back, blinded by

the light, the man in the raincoat draws his own weapon and

backhands it into the head of ther man holding the gun on

him.

The third kidnapper opens fire towards the lights on the

roof. He is cut down by a hail of bullets.

Holding the girl, Brantley has retreated back between two

dumpsters and has the wall at his back. He is protected

from everyone but –

MAN IN RAINCOAT

Let her go!

Brantley holds the sobbing woman in front of him.

MAN IN RAINCOAT

There’s nowhere to run to. Let’s

not get stupid.

Brantley’s is the soft, emotionless voice of a psychopath.

BRANTLEY

Stupid. Am I stupid?

MAN IN RAINCOAT

(nervously)

It was just a figure of speech.

BRANTLEY

No, you’re right. I am stupid.

He aims his gun at the man in the raincoat. The two men

fire at the same time. Raincoat’s shot explodes into the

girl’s throat. Brantley’s shot hits Raincoat square in

the chest. The force of the shot knocks him back and down.

And then –

BRANTLEY

Shit. Turn on the lights.

Spots come on. To reveal that the alley and the buildings

are facades and the personnel above and now entering are

FBI academy trainees. This is Hogan’s Alley – a training

area built on the Academy campus at Quantico.

The hostage pulls the tape from her mouth. She grabs at

her “bloody” throat.

HOSTAGE

Son of a bitch. You’re supposed

to shoot him, not me.

The trainee in the raincoat sits up, dabbing at the crimson

paint on his chest.

MAN IN RAINCOAT

Shit…

BRANTLEY

Sportfans, Agent Walter Riley has

just bought the farm. Who can

tell me what he did wrong? Lewis!

A YOUNG MAN

He confronted the suspect as

opposed to backing off.

BRANTLEY

And by doing so put himself in an

untenable situation. What else?

A YOUNG BLACK WOMAN

He antagonized the suspect.

AUSTIN

When you leave the script, you

endanger not only yourselves but

your partners. Finally and most

important! Agent Riley?

MAN IN RAINCOAT

I didn’t shoot first.

BRANTLEY

You always shoot first. Always.

Live and there’s a chance the

victim lives. Die, you all die.

0900 tomorrow for debriefing.

As the trainees move away, Brantley turns to Riley.

BRANTLEY (cont’d)

Spend a little more time on the

range, Walter.

Brantley turns away.

MAN IN RAINCOAT

Sir, I’m an administrator not a

field agent.

(louder)

I’m an f