A violent gangster turns vigilante when his young son is murdered, but when he executes an undercover cop, his operation backfires.
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I think the logline is well structured and it shows a lot of scope for the story, although I would possibly change the end section “his operation backfires.” The first part really grabs my interest, then loses it with the ending.
Definitely great fodder for a feature script.
It seems like streamlining is the first thing I’d suggest. At the moment you’re suggesting two inciting incidents – either the film kicks into gear when his son gets murdered, and it’s about him becoming a vigilante a la “The Punisher”. Or it’s about a vigilante who is seeking vengeance for his murdered son, who accidentally kills a cop, and then whatever the rest of the film is about happens. Whilst I agree at the murdered son thing is very interesting and quite a hook, it might not be necessary in order to keep the logline as streamlined as possible.
You’ve said – here is a guy who has a problem … but you haven’t indicated what your film is going to be about. What is the goal? What are the stakes?
thx Phoenix. How would you change it / end it ?
The structure is great and the story is easy to see. As phoenix pointed out the ending doesn’t go with the start of the logline.
“his operation backfires” not sure a gangsters action/retaliation would be classed as an operation.
Play with the ending a bit more and I think you’ll have your logline.
thx, well, yeh the dead kid bit is back story. The Hero’s been a vigilante for 5 years when we enter the story, which is the moment the son of the undercover agent he murdered infiltrates his gang to get his own revenge.
The hero’s outward goal is to find a leader to continue his vigilante work when he either a) is caught or b) is killed. His inner need is to let go of his dead son and embrace the family he has left, his wife and teenage daughter, who he’s tearing apart through his obsession with his vigilantism (protecting the world from evil).
He thinks he’s achieved his goal and found the leader when the kid of the undercover agent he’d killed turns up and saves his daughter from a street attack.
The kids fresh back from a tour of Afghanistan and is hard as nails but gentle too – just like he wished his son would have been. He gains a son.
But the hero doesn’t know this kid’s really there to kill him and avenge his dad, but at the same time the kid knows there’s a bigger force behind the hero –
The ringleader of the child trafficking ring who killed the hero’s son and set him up to execute the undercover agent…
There’s a lot going on so 25 words is proving tough !
Thanks Andrew. You’re right about the ‘operation’ even though he would probably class it as that – it isn’t. Any suggestions how to end it?
Wowsers … sounds like you’ve got HEAPS of story to tell with this one, but I have to admit, I don’t think this logline is an accurate account of what your film is about at all.
What it sounds like it’s actually about is that the leader of a vigilante gang (sort of like an underworld justice league … right?) seeks a protege to take over the ‘family business’, but the young man he’s grooming for command plots to murder him in order to exact vengeance for his murdered father.
Whilst my above paragraph is probably an absolute butchering of the poetry you’ve constructed, I’d definitely say it’s closer to what your film is about than a vigilante who has killed a cop. That’s all just back story.
haha, poetry was invented to be butchered ! Don’t worry, it’s at least my 30th attempt at this logline – and you’ve hit the nail on the head straight away. Thank God for an outside eye…
Now how do I get that to 25 words…?
actually I lied – he wasn’t an undercover cop the Hero killed – but an ex- Royal marine commando working for an anti-trafficking NGO who goes undercover – the vigilante kills him by mistake – so we’re 5 years later when his commando son comes back for revenge… there’s no police after the hero – except for his present crimes…
Your logline still works tho – so thanks. I’m sure I can get it down to 25 words – almost is already. 😀
So, how about?
The leader of an underworld vigilante gang seeks a protege to take over the ?family business?, but the young man he?s grooming for command plans to kill him in vengeance for his murdered father.
“When a gangster turns vigilante to avenge his murdered son, by executing an undercover cop brings a new member with ulterior motives.
Something like that, but better.
Like it man! Also, this doesn’t give away the fact the ‘new member’ has a plot to kill the Hero … which is a reveal… AWESOME. 😀
It’s working, it’s clear what it’s about and who, and what the stakes are … but … I don’t know about you but the end is clunky, right?
“…plans to kill him in vengeance for his murdered father.” I don’t know how to fix it but it doesn’t sounds right. It sounds too wordy.
I still like the ‘grooming a protege for command’ tho….how about:
The leader of an underworld vigilante gang seeks a protege to take over the ?family business?, but the young man he?s grooming for command has an ulterior motive…
“Years after his son’s murder, the jaded leader of an underworld vigilante gang grooms a vengeful young man to take over “the family business”.”
“jaded” is not right. There’s got to be something there that communicates his state of mind though … that he’s had enough … that the more he fights, the more “evil” fights back. It’s too much, it’s exhausting, and his need to focus on his wife and daughter …
You’ve hit it right on the f**king head again. Bang on.
personally the whole groom and grooming doesn’t sit right with me, propably because that term is used for paedophiles etc.
The leader of an underworld vigilante gang seeks a protege to take over the ?family business?, but the young man he?s grooming for command has an ulterior motives…
The start “the leader” Doesn’t sound right, surely there is more than one leader…
“When a leader of a vigilante gang seeks a protege to take over the ?family business?, the young man he?s grooming for command has an ulterior motives”
When a leader of a vigilante gang executes an undercover cop, he seeks a protege to take over the ?family business?, the young man he?s grooming for command has an ulterior motives”
I like ‘jaded’ but yeh, he’s still motivated. He loves killing these perverts.
Plus, he’s making a fortune from it (paid for by the outside force, the child trafficking ringleader who killed his son is using him as an unwitting debt collector).
The money the hero receives he feeds through his wife’s charity, which is how she deals with her grief/anger.
So the hero’s wife and daughter are opponents too.
The kid who infiltrates the gang falls in love with the daughter and actually becomes a fake-opponent ally, joining forces with the hero in the end to take down the outside force –
– the child trafficking ring-leader responsible for killing the hero’s kid and setting the hero up to kill the protege’s undercover agent dad.
So yeh, his wife and daughter are opponents.
The main antagonist is largely outside of the hero’s world until the climax, although we see glimpses of his operation at work….
the main story is the relationship between the hero and the kid who infiltrates his gang who he grooms for leadership, to the dismay of his daughter…
Agree with Andrew about the ‘grooming’ connotations … but it’s not a hard and fast rule. It could be read that way, but if you can find a way to make the same point without it, you might avoid some negative reception without putting in too much extra effort.
Regarding the “the leader” issue. From what Filmstar says about his film, this guy started out as a vigilante after his son was murdered, and over the course of time has put together a little outside-the-law-crime-fighting-squad. So in that sense, he WOULD be the leader, and it’s important to be as precise as possible.
On a note about making the story compelling, it’s heaps more engaging if there is ONE leader, who lost his son, started fighting crime to clean up the world, made a mistake and that mistake has come back to haunt him in the guise of a “replacement son” … by inserting MULTIPLE leaders (therefore removing the singular “personal” connection to the “family business” he has set up) you muddy a very simple but effective film premise. In effect, you LOWER the stakes simply by creating more people who can run this gang of vigilantes. Please don’t do it.
Andrew – yeh, good point about the grooming – altho it’s strangely ironic…
Nicholas – you’re right, there is only One leader –
Thanks guys for all your help.
if they’re antagonists … why is he leaving the gang at all? why retire if he’s making heaps of bank and enjoys it?
there are several factors, the police are closing in on him, his heart’s giving out, his wife is leaving him, his daughter’s suicidal – if he doesn’t stop he’s gonna lose everything – it’s the new kid he takes on who makes him see all this – and who reveals to him his dad’s secret files containing the answer of who really killed his son…
…and even his gang – 2 other members – are turning against the hero as he’s chosen this new kid over them to be his ‘son and heir’…
Just remember to keep those motivations relatively simple. In ‘Breaking Bad’, his family can sometimes work as an antagonistic force, but it’s simple and primal for us to understand that the reason Walter starts to break the law is in order to protect his family.
Don’t jump through hoops to communicate that your protag wants to leave ‘the life’ if you’ve got those simple and clear reasons … his wife leaving, his daughter being drawn in: these are universal fears and dangers, and make your hero relatable, despite the fact that he’s an ex-crim turned violent killer who works largely for a child trafficker (read: not a traditionally likeable ‘hero’). It’s without a doubt a premise with a heap of promise, though. Great work.
I like this, the more he fights, the more evil fights back…
Thanks. I’m two years into this story after 1st draft coverage and one on one consultation for 3 months. Getting back to the logline is extremely helpful. Thanks for all your input. Back to the logline then.
I think I’ll sleep on all these notes 🙂
Years after his son?s murder, the leader of a vigilante gang trains a new recruit to take over his ‘work’, but the young AWOL commando is on a mission of his own.
Maybe it’s something to do with police force, law enforcement bodies, child trafficking ring, anti-trafficking NGO… out to punish the punisher.
Filmstar … That’s sounding pretty darn good
Thanks man, gonna run with this… thanks for all your help, bro.
Good way to realize the protag 1st role and driving goal that wraps the whole story up tight , then show the stakes and reveal the resolution .Interesting reading .
Well, with the help of all the feedback I finally realized something I’d suspected for a long time – it’s TWO stories – or rather – the hero has TWO GOALS.
So, the hero’s new goal is: to find a new recruit for his next ‘hit’ coming up on Saturday.
A clear, achievable, outward goal : to find a new recruit.
“An embittered vigilante has to find a new recruit in time for his next kill, but when his wife and daughter uncover his plans he’s forced to choose: stop killing… or lose the ones he loves.”
I think your original logline, is very strong and what you are classing as backstory is also a v strong film premise. You could have a trilogy in here. You seem to know the backstory really well, so don’t dismiss it, you can use that. as Part 1.
I HAVE to leave a positive review when I see a log line scenario that is intriguing AND… I believe not only COULD happen in real life but probably WILL eventually happen in real life. I love stories that seem utterly plausible, unique, and “inevitable”, in other words. Since I cannot add anything substantive to the great comments posted before mine, I’ll leave it at that. KUDOS!
Just change the ending, maybe you can write the entire logline in some similar form.