A down-on-his-luck Ad Exec. devises a plan to prevent his wife from receiving alimony.
| INT. SUBURBAN HOME - EVENING
The following text fades in over black:
One out of every two marriages in the United States end in
divorce. In an at-fault divorce in the state of
Pennsylvania, a spouse who is found guilty of infidelity
will be barred from seeking spousal support.
SUPER: NEW CASTLE, PA, 2003
A close shot of a framed photograph of a bride and groom.
Both are smiling and holding one another.
The camera slowly pans over the wall to reveal more framed
photos; the couple on a beach; at a New Year's Eve party; at
a family barbecue - the man is grilling; another wedding
photo, the couple feeding each other cake; the couple
sitting on a couch, the woman hiding her face while the man
tries to pry her hands away, playfully. The last photo
frame that we see is EMPTY.
The camera pans down to a man sleeping on a couch, his body
turned away from the camera. The man is JOHN AVERY, a
successful businessman in his mid-40s. He has a short,
stocky build and his head of brown hair is beginning to go
bald. As the man stirs uncomfortably in his sleep, the
title of the film fades in:
A PREEMPTIVE STRIKE
The man's alarm clock is shown, the time is 11:29. As the
time changes to 11:30, the alarm BEEPS and the man
immediately turns it off, as if he's been waiting for it.
The man throws the covers off, revealing that he's still
dressed. He wipes the sleep from his eyes and runs a hand
through his messy hair. After a beat, he stands and walks
out of the room.
EXT. HIGHWAY - LATER
An extended POV shot of a vehicle being driven down a
snow-covered highway in the dead of night. The snow is
coming down heavy, obscuring the driver's view and drifting
across the pavement. The combination of snow and dark
highway driving gives off a claustrophobic feeling.
FADE TO BLACK
INT. WELLINGTON'S PUB - LATER
A man is seated at a booth in a fairly run-down bar. He's
drinking a pint of beer and he appears bored.
The man is ANTON BRODY, a tall, attractive man in his early
50s, with tan skin and a very light beard. He has
close-cropped dark hair with specks of grey.
The man finishes his drink and looks around the room for the
waitress. He catches her eye and signals her to come over
with a wave of his hand.
How ya doin' hun? Can I getcha'
Yeah, that'd be great. Actually -
get me two. I'm expecting
Two cold ones, comin' right up!
The waitress grabs the empty pint glass and walks away.
Anton stares at her ass as she walks.
Anton is distracted by the FLASH OF HEADLIGHTS coming
through the front window of the pub.
A moment later, John walks through the front door wearing a
heavy winter jacket, a knitted winter hat and heavy winter
John removes his gloves clumsily and takes out his cell
phone. He dials a phone number and hears the jingle of a
RINGTONE in the distance.
John investigates the source of the noise while holding his
phone out in front of him awkwardly (and unnecessarily)
until he comes upon Anton's table.
You made it.
Yeah, sorry. The roads were a
mess. Haven't been to Pittsburgh
John smiles nervously.
Well, you're one of the lucky ones
Go on, take a seat. I don't bite.
John sits down across from Anton, leaving his jacket and hat
Anton stares at John.
So things didn't quite work out,
huh? My condolences.
Your marriage. Jesus, I hope
that's why you're here. Steve
Yeah, well...that's not
really...I'd prefer not to get
It's why we're here, isn't it?
After a beat:
What's the plan here?
Well, that's what we need to
figure out, isn't it?
The waitress brings two beers over to the table.
Ah good timing, thanks so much.
Anton raises his glass in cheers and holds it there, waiting
for John to do the same.
Oh, no thanks, I'm actually not
really much of a drinker.
Now would be a great time to
Anton pushes his drink forward a bit in mid-air, spilling
some on John's side of the table.
Anton takes a long gulp of beer and sets the mug down on the
Well, I guess the plan is to fuck
your wife, isn't it?
Do you mind?
John motions to the elderly couple sitting near to them,
afraid that they might overhear.
I was told you'd be professional
You know what I do, right?
And you know this isn't my first
time doing this right?
Listen, I know, I'm just...I mean,
are you sure it's gonna work?
Well, you can never be totally
sure, John. If you need some
statistics, which I'm assuming you
do, I'd say my success rate
percent. Those are pretty good
numbers, all things considered. I
take pride in those numbers.
And what if I'm one of the
Then you'll get your money back,
don't worry about it. My word is
my bond. Speaking of money
John reaches into his winter jacket and pulls out a large
Manila envelope. He passes it across the table.
Great, the hard part's over then.
Now, I will need a few things from
you before we move on.
Sure, like what?
Well, first of all...does she have
any hobbies outside of the home?
What kinda hobbies?
I don't know, John, I'm not the
one married to her. Oh! Before we
even get into that...I need the
name and photo. Didja bring that?
Her name's Rachel and...
John reaches into his pocket and pulls out a PHOTO of
himself and Rachel at the beach.
That one's pretty recent...about 6
That's perfect, thanks. Hey, you
guys make a pretty cute couple.
John frowns at Anton.
Anyways...hobbies. I can't just
bump into her at Circuit City and
ask for a quickie behind the
batteries. That usually doesn't
work too well. I need a good
reason to talk to her. What's her
John thinks; after a beat:
She's been going to Yoga for the
last few weeks every Wednesday
night. I'm not sure where,
though. Some place in town,
that's all I know.
And this is where?
In New Castle...I thought you were
told...I know it's a bit of a
Somehow that part was left out.
Don't worry about it, I'll figure
out where the place is. Might
have to bill you for the mileage
John looks confused.
That was a joke.
All right, real good. So...is
that it then?
Anton winks at John and takes another drink.
Here's the deal; we're gonna meet
back here next week, same time,
same place. Everything should be
taken care of...and you'll be one
step closer to freedom, my friend.
John nods and gets up to leave.
See you next week, John. And
don't worry, I'll pick up the
Anton nudges the envelope that John gave him.
Put that away before someone sees
John puts his gloves back on as he walks to the exit with a
look of deep concern on his face.
INT. CAR - LATER
John is driving back home. The time on the clock radio
The glow of the street lights flickers across John's face as
he drives. He still has a look of concern on his face. He
runs a hand through his hair and rubs his forehead.
EXT. AVERY HOME - LATER
John pulls his BMW into the driveway of his home. He parks
the car and removes his gloves. He looks down at the ring
on his finger. He fiddles with it, taking it off and
putting it back on.
John exits the car and walks to the front door of the house.
He struggles with getting the key in the lock and ends up
dropping the key ring on the porch.
John picks up the keys and unlocks the door.
INT. AVERY HOME - CONTINUOUS
The house is dark.
As John opens the door, a BEEPING noise begins.
John turns to his left and turns off the house alarm by
punching in the code.
John opens the door to the bedroom slightly, letting in a
bit of light from the hallway. His wife, RACHEL AVERY, is
asleep in the middle of the bed.
Rachel is an attractive woman in her early 30s. She has
long dark hair and a thin build.
There are two pillows on the floor in front of the doorway.
John stares at Rachel for a few moments and then stares at
the floor. He reaches down and picks up the pillows.
John is watching TV. All of the lights are off in the room
and John's face is illuminated with bright, white light from
the television screen. John is looking off to the side with
half-closed eyelids, not really paying attention to what's
happening on the screen.
From New York, the greatest city
in the world, it's The Late Show
with David Letterman! Tonight,
Executive Producer of The Tonight
Show starring Johnny Carson, Peter
Lassally and a musical performance
from Doc Severinsen! Plus, Paul
Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra! And
now, the youngest Gabor sister,
David Letterman! (applause)
A few minutes later, the room is dark and John is lying down
on the couch. He stares out at the moon in the night sky
and eventually closes his eyes.
CUT TO BLACK
INT. WELLINGTON'S PUB - LATER
Anton is sitting by himself at the same table he's been
sitting at all night. There are now four empty beer mugs
Anton takes out his flip-top cell phone and scrolls through
his contacts until he gets to "Dafino, William". He dials
WILLIAM DAFINO (VO)
Hey Bill, how ya doin'? Listen I
need a bit of a favour from you.
WILLIAM DAFINO (VO)
I'm listening...assuming it's a
You'll be paid, don't worry. I
need you to put a tail on a
'Rachel Avery' of New Castle.
Husband's name is 'John Avery'. He
owns some advertising firm down
there. See where she goes, what
her routine is like. I hear she
likes Yoga. Get back to me when
you have something.
WILLIAM DAFINO (VO)
Of course Anton, anything for you.
Thanks pal, I owe you one.
WILLIAM DAFINO (VO)
You don't owe me 'one', you owe me
A BEAUTIFUL GIRL walks in, heavily bundled in a winter
jacket. She walks toward the bar.
Anton glances at the woman, distracted.
After a beat:
Right, that's what I meant.
Anyways, I gotta go, you say hi to
Marge for me OK? Take care.
Anton hangs up the phone and takes a sip of his beer, never
taking his eyes off of the woman.
He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a folded
PHOTOGRAPH. He unfolds it to reveal a picture of a young
man and the beautiful girl, laughing and hugging in Las
Vegas in front of the MGM Grand Casino.
Anton gets up from the booth and wanders over to the bar.
He stands next to the beautiful girl and tries to get the
The WELLINGTON'S PUB BARTENDER walks over.
Uh, Rolling Rock please.
The Wellington's Pub Bartender nods and walks away.
Anton looks around the room and glances at the beautiful
girl. They catch each other's glance for a moment and they
WELLINGTON'S PUB BARTENDER
Anton throws down a five dollar bill and two singles and
takes the beer.
(to the bartender,
as the bartender
Anton scans the bar area as if searching for an empty seat,
even though there's one beside the beautiful girl.
(to the beautiful
This seat taken?
The beautiful girl flashes Anton a wide smile and shyly
shakes her head no.
The sound of a woman SCREAMING and MOANING can be heard over
the image of the beautiful girl in the bar smiling at Anton,
leading into the next scene...
INT. ANTON'S APARTMENT - LATER
A close-up view of the beautiful girl's face is seen as she
MOANS loudly while having sex.
Pulled further away from the action, we can see that she and
Anton are having sex in his bed. Anton is on top of her.
Oh God! Oh my gawwwwd!
The headboard is WOBBLING back and forth as Anton uses it
Another close-up of the girl's face is seen. She continues
Panning down past the two, as they grind and hump one
another, to the floor of the apartment:
The moaning reaches it's high point and suddenly stops as
the girl climaxes.
On the floor of the apartment there are clothes strewn
about. Next to a pair of wrinkled jeans is the folded up
photo of the beautiful girl and her husband.
FADE TO BLACK
INT. ANTON'S APARTMENT - LATER
An overhead shot is seen of Anton and the girl lying in bed,
both seemingly asleep.
The girl opens her eyes and looks to her side to see if
Anton is asleep.
She creeps out of bed slowly and starts putting her clothes
She steps on the PHOTO but doesn't notice.
The girl puts on her jacket and shoes and leaves the
apartment, quietly opening and closing the door behind her.
Anton opens his eyes as soon as she leaves. He gets out of
bed and watches out the window as she gets into her car.
He smiles to himself, scratches his head and starts walking
across the room. On his way, he steps on the PHOTO.
Anton bends down and picks it up. He shakes his head and
tosses it in a garbage can.
He wanders over to the dresser where we see a small
CAMCORDER is hidden among a pile of clothes.
CLOSE-UP OF CAMCORDER BUTTONS
Anton hits the 'stop' button.
CUT TO BLACK
EXT. AVERY ADVERTISING - DAY
FLARE TO WHITE
WIDE EXTERIOR: THREE-STORY OFFICE BUILDING
The building is home to several businesses, including Avery
Advertising. The windows are floor to ceiling.
Snow is falling and the landscape and sky are mostly white.
CLOSER EXTERIOR: BOARDROOM
Four men are sitting around a large conference room table.
Three of them are having an animated conversation, while the
fourth appears uninterested and has his head buried in his
INT. BOARDROOM - CONTINUOUS
TIGHT SHOT: SIGN (AVERY ADVERTISING)
John, dressed in a suit and tie, is staring at his computer,
playing online poker, while the other three are talking
(speaks with a
The bottom line is, they just
don't know what the heck they
want! I put the lemon on the top
of the bottle and they say it's
too dominant. I put it on the
middle of the bottle and they say
it's too focused. I'm tired of
moving this fucking lemon!
KYLE is a heavyset man with boyish features. His eyes bug
out when he gets excited and he has a tendency to stutter as
Why don't we suggest a bunch of
waves or...I don't know...a water
droplet? That's good, right?
People see water, they think
fresh. It's like a subconscious
We've already been over this, they
want a tropical feel to this thing
and water isn't tropical. I can
go to the kitchen right now and
pour you a glass of water, I don't
have to be in Honolulu to see a
And a lemon is tropical? My wife
buys lemons every week and last
time I checked, FoodLand didn't
have a tropical theme going on.
Fuck, is it still snowing out
I don't know, this is a lost
cause. I'm hungry, are you guys
hungry? I could go for some Roti
right about now, anyone wanna grab
some Roti with me?
That place down on Verlander? I
went there last week with Stevens,
something was off.
Well I guess it doesn't have to be
a lemon. What about a pineapple?
The spikes might be a bit too
You nuts? That place is great,
it's never off, it must have been
I had diarrhea for 3 days, I'm not
going back there.
After a beat:
John, you wanna weigh in here?
John looks up with a blank stare on his face. He looks
Uh, yeah. Don't worry about it.
I'll talk to Jennifer later about
this and get it all straightened
out. Listen, why don't we all
take an hour for lunch, meet back
here at 1?
I'm sorry John, I'm just
I know, it's fine.
People don't realize, I'm a senior
graphic designer, I can make a
decision on where to put a
Never mind. See you after lunch.
Everyone nods, stands up and goes towards the door except
for John, who remains seated.
(in the distance)
I'm not getting the runs again,
John opens up his instant messenger program and clicks on
Steve Peters' contact icon. A window pops open.
I met with the guy
u serious? Thought u said u werent
gonna go for it?
John stares at the screen. After a beat:
John stares outside at the bright, winter day. The snow is
falling quickly and creating a fresh layer on the parking
INT. OFFICE LOBBY - MOMENTS LATER
John is walking out of the building and passes the front
desk. He walks past ELIZABETH REISENFELD, the secretary at
Avery Advertising. Elizabeth is a young woman in her
mid-20s with curly blonde hair and a perpetual smile.
John turns around.
Oh, hey Liz.
How ya doin'? You wanna grab
lunch with me today?
Uh, no. No, that's OK, thanks,
I'm a bit busy. You faxed that
memo to Jennifer yet?
Well, no I--
Well, get it out before one, I
have a meeting with her this
afternoon. Actually, if you could
just do it now...
John stares at her. After a beat:
John looks like he wants to say something, but instead waves
her off and walks out of the building.
Elizabeth stares at him as he walks away, looking far too
hurt for simply forgetting a fax.
INT. RESTAURANT - LATER
Two plates of food are placed on a table. The food looks
unappetizing. It's mostly unrecognisable pub grub.
Anything else I can get you?
No...no, thank you, I think we're
STEVE PETERS, a balding, paunchy man in his mid-40s, starts
John fidgets in his chair.
This Chicken-Fried Chicken is
amazing. You wanna try?
That's quite possibly the most
disgusting thing I've ever seen in
All right, I'll agree, it's not
five-star dining, but it gets the
job done. What's up with you
anyway? You've had a sour puss on
since you walked in here.
Just tired, I guess. Been
sleeping on the couch all week.
Steve grins as he chews noisily.
I know how it goes, buddy. You're
making the right choice though,
So how'd that go, anyway? You met
with him, everything's cool?
Yeah, last night. We talked it
out, he seemed real OK with the
whole situation. We're gonna meet
up again in a week.
Yeah, I told you...the guy acts
fast. I don't know how he does
it. Well OK, he's a sexy fucking
guy, that's how he does it. If I
looked like him I'd be getting all
kindsa pussy too.
You sound like you've got a little
thing for him there, Steve.
Hey, there's nothing wrong with a
man admitting that another man is
good looking. Shows you're
comfortable with your own
Yeah, well, when you describe him
as "fucking sexy", it doesn't help
Steve laughs with his mouth full of food. Some of it sprays
Whatever, man. Oh, hey, I didn't
tell you...the divorce was
finalized on the weekend.
Yeah, done deal. I'm a free man!
So, it worked then?
Oh, it fuckin' worked. Don't have
to pay a dime going forward. Yeah,
she got like thirty percent out of
the shared account, but it wasn't
the end of the world. I like to
think of it as a one-time fee to
buy back my freedom. Smooth
sailing from here on out. You'll
see, you'll be there soon too. I
just wish I was there when she saw
the tape. She probably shit her
Steve laughs to himself.
Hey, I'm tellin' ya man...it's
gonna be fine, just keep your chin
John picks at his food.
You see Liz at all this week?
John stares at his food.
You kidding? She's a piece of
ass, John. And, let's not
forget...you're a free man. Well,
let me rephrase that. A free man
in the making. Have fun, why not?
You deserve it, buddy.
The waitress walks up.
Aww you didn't like your food?
It's all right...I'm just not real
hungry, I guess.
I'll get you a doggy bag. Always
good for a midnight snack, right?
The waitress smiles and walks off.
John's cell phone BUZZES in his pocket. He pulls it out and
reads the message.
Did I do something wrong? Why
won't you return my calls?
John flips his phone closed and puts it back in his pocket.
Hey, listen, I think I'm gonna get
Jesus, you just got here!
John throws down a twenty dollar bill and stands up, putting
his jacket back on.
Sorry, I've just got a lot on my
plate right now. I'll talk to you
John walks away.
Let me know how it goes!
As John walks away, Steve is in the background reaching
across the table with his fork to pick food off of John's
FADE TO BLACK