Get Ready For 100 CCs ...of Crap!

I wanted to like the script for Codename: Courage. I wanted to love it.

Anything based on Commander Courage starts off with no bigger fan than I -- except for Don. But from the opening scene I knew this was not a film I could stomach.

The movie opens with our nameless and nearly faceless (he wears the mask for the entire film) hero waking up in the morning. The first thing our tough guy does is pull a revolver out of his bedside table. He holds it to his temple and clicks the trigger. No bang. He says…ready for this "I'm not gonna die today." Oh please. I haven't even finished reading page one and I'm gagging on the testosterone.

Oh, the shame of it all...

If that little moment of near suicide isn't enough to clue us in that Codename is a hard-ass wait til you see how he makes his coffee. A bit groggy he stumbles to his messy kitchen. Groggy? I don't know about you but I think a game of Russian Roulette might get my heart racing plenty fast enough first thing in the morning.

So Codename gets out his coffee and looks around his kitchen but finds the box of coffee filters is empty. He removes the black sock from his foot and pours the ground coffee into it. Holding this sock above his mug he pours the boiling water into the sock. He slurps down the hot coffee with a satisfied "ah."

So for me right off the bat I don't like this guy. He's not tough as in "as impenetrable as the Liberty Bell itself;" he's tough like "look I'm on 'Jackass'".

Well, it wouldn't be an action movie if we had to wait too long for some explosions. No sooner has he finished his morning cup than he whips his head toward his front door. A shadow moves under the frame. Codename dives across the room and rolls to his closet. Now he has his guns and they have their guns and it's pretty standard issue action movie stuff. The enemy bullets come close but strike mostly his bed pillows. Yes the script calls for the obligatory John Woo white feathers flying while light pours through the bullet holes in the door.

I'm now on page three of the script. I think you get the basics. Don't get me wrong: that sequence reads well on the page and I imagine it'll make a great bit of pyrotechnic action onscreen, but so far we don't know who this guy is. Why does he do these things? Is he a hero? So far he's just a tough guy getting shot at. He could even be the villain. The only clue we have that we should root for him instead of against him is that he's being shot at by Arabs. Apparently in today's Hollywood shorthand, that's reason enough to know someone is evil.

Codename tracks down his COURAGE (Covert Operations Unit: Reconnaissance And Guerilla Enforcement) "control" and demands to know who's after him and how they knew where he lived. It turns out agents of Scarlet Jihad may have infiltrated the top secret COURAGE division which Codename works for. Scarlet Jihad has ties to Sadam Bin Jazeer.

Codename and his control agent Frank Harner decide that Codename must go into Damascus to find a lead to Bin Jazeer. Just as Codename is about to leave, Harner adds "one more thing."

On arrival in Damascus, Codename is to go to the famous open market, Souk al-Hamidiyeh, and seek out a basket vendor named al-Sahaf and say "I'm a friend of your daughter." An American tourist will answer "He has no daughters but has many wives." This tourist will be Codename's contact and partner with a codename of Liberty. He growls "I work alone". And Harner tells him not this time. This entire spy meets spy exchange is only slightly less tired than "the blue gull flies at midnight".

Here I should point out I'd be utterly clueless as to when any hero remotely related to Commander Courage might appear if it weren't for the title of the script. The codename of Liberty has me thinking maybe there'll be a Liberty Lad character. But unfortunately I already knew that wasn't going to be the case.

Of course at the Damascus street bazaar Codename is shocked to get the counter signal from a gorgeous blonde woman. Aha, agent Codename: Liberty is Liberty Lass. And the odd couple pairing begins. Codename doubts any woman can be as competent as he is and Liberty Lass finds ample opportunities to prove him wrong. Both "heroes" are gruesomely violent as they dispatch their Arab opponents.

I won't give away the ending as far as do they find Bin Jazeer. You can probably guess that one. The trail of Bin Jazeer leads them to a remote island evil compound with (conveniently) no women or children. So our heroes can shoot any thing that moves and not have their consciences awoken.

But there is a prophecy established that freedom will only come following a great rain in the desert. And in recent Hollywood fashion with almost zero build up (other than having been in the trenches together -- literally) Codename and Lass have their romantic moments in the final pages of this script.

Just as Codename leans in for the kiss it begins to pour rain down on the duo. Lass says "It's rain." Codename says "Is it rain? I hadn't noticed." And they swap some spit. Awww. So sweet. After the big kiss, Lass leads him off into the sunset -and yes the sun is setting in the rainstorm.

"Where are we going?" Codename asks "Somewhere great, I hope." She replies.

Somewhere great like straight to video maybe? There's so much wrong with this script I can't let myself go on much longer or I'll never stop. There were so many quintessential Courage moments in the sixty year history of the comics they could have borrowed or paid homage to. Almost none of that is in this movie. I bet the screenwriter and the studio development people didn't even know there was a romantic line of Courage comics called "The Courage to Love". Any given issue of that book would have provided a less cheesy romantic wrap up than the rain in the desert scene.

How would I rate this script? From hero to zero, no stars.

Big thanks to "Ice Tray" for getting the script to Donald and me.

--Derek Sprang

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