In the midst of the swinging sixties, a racist, yet charismatic con man inexplicably befriends a black jewel thief and decides to steal a four million dollar painting from a heavily guarded and elaborate art museum.
Stories like these are usually more compelling if the lead character is forced to do something he or she doesn’t want to do, which will add to the conflict.
So in your story, if the con man is forced (By someone powerful or someone the lead owes money too) to work with the African American jewel thief. then you have conflict which will be very entertaining.
As Richiev said. Or the con artist has a justifiable grievance against the mark for the heist as in “Ocean’s 11”. And the mark is by invidious comparison a more unlikable character.
Why is the con man motivated to undertake the heist? Greed isn’t good enough a reason to induce an audience to root for him to succeed.
I’m not sure anything should be happening “inexplicably” in a screenplay. Everything happens for a reason.
As dpg and Richiev have said, there needs to be another reason for why this happens in the first place. Think about it this way, a con man’s job is to commit cons. A thief’s job is to steal. So for these two characters, there is nothing happening that is out of the ordinary. But there needs to be an event that makes this job the one that’s worth showing to the audience.
For maximum conflict these two have to be forced to work together. He’s racist, he’s part of the black power movement. It’s pretty standard but it works.
I like this idea. I’m seeing an Ocean’s 11 but written and directed by Shane Black type thing.
I agree with you, mikepedley85, that a con artist and a thief are only doing what comes naturally for them. But their behavior is transgressive, it violates collective norms. So why would a movie audience embracing (more or less) those norms want to root for them? Even want to buy a movie ticket to watch them pull off the heist, get away with violating those collective norms?
One of the few heist movies I can think of one movie where the initial motivation to pull off a heist is pure, unadulterated greed is “Sexy Beast” (2000) But in that one, the protagonist has retired; he doesn’t want to do another job.
However, a vicious, vile gangster (wonderfully played by Ben Kingsley) demands he come out of retirement and do another job — or else the gangster will kill him. So he does the job — but only after he kills the gangster. The way the plot is constructed, now he MUST do the job in order to cover up the killing, remove all suspicion as to why the gangster has mysteriously disappeared otherwise another gangster will seek revenge.
Also, why THAT objective goal and why NOW? Why of all the possible paintings he could steal does he want to steal that specific painting? And why must he steal it now?
This is a movie where the protagonist enjoys the benefit of the 2nd criteria I mentioned: invidious comparison. He’s a likeable bloke in contrast to the vicious, ruthless gangster. And in contrast to another ruthless gangster he has to deal with while doing the job. He’s a robber, but the least awful one compared to all the others.