Spec Ops: The Line - The Movie

This isn't what I had in mind when they told me it was a sandbox game.
This isn't what I had in mind when they told me it was a sandbox game.

FADE IN:

EXT. DUBAI AIRSPACE

CAPTAIN WALKER, LIEUTENANT ADAMS and SERGEANT LUGO are a THREE-MAN DELTA TEAM aboard a HELICOPTER. WALKER is firing a MINIGUN at a bunch of PURSUING HELICOPTERS that only attack the side of his HELICOPTER that has a MINIGUN.

CAPTAIN WALKER

Cool, we're getting the inevitable on-rails shooting section out of the way first!

LIEUTENANT ADAMS

Actually, I think this is an in medias res opening, so we probably have to do it twice.

CAPTAIN WALKER

MOTHERFUCKER!

Their HELICOPTER CRASHES, after which the PLOT does that SEVERAL DAYS EARLIER thing.

EXT. OUTSKIRTS - DUBAI

The city of DUBAI has been DEVASTATED by a series of SAND STORMS. DELTA TEAM enters the OUTSKIRTS.

CAPTAIN WALKER

Okay guys, this is just another run-of-the-military Spec Ops game, so here's our mission. An army colonel and his entire 33rd infantry battalion disappeared after having volunteered to aid in the failed evacuation of Dubai. Nothing has been heard from them for the last six months, until a distress call managed to penetrate the storm wall two weeks ago.

LIEUTENANT ADAMS

Six months? So more than a thousand soldiers, all with families and friends back home, were just abandoned without any fuss?

SERGEANT LUGO

And when they are finally heard from, the first response is to send in three guys?

CAPTAIN WALKER

That's enough! Stories in military shooters don't need to make sense! Whatever allows us to shoot wave upon wave of foreigners is fine.

LIEUTENANT ADAMS

Our mission does sound a lot like it's inspired by Heart of Darkness. I mean, the colonel's name is Konrad, which is a blatantly obvious reference. Aren't you worried that --

CAPTAIN WALKER

Don't be ridiculous! Military shooters don't scrutinise the ignominy of war or probe the darkness within mankind! The developers probably did that just to seem smart and well-read.

On their way into the CITY, DELTA TEAM comes across a group of EMIRATI INSURGENTS.

CAPTAIN WALKER

See? What did I tell you! Headscarves! ATTACK!

SERGEANT LUGO

AMERICUH! FUCK YEAH!

LIEUTENANT ADAMS

WE'RE GOING TO LIBERATE THE SHIT OUT OF YOU!

They KILL the INSURGENTS using BULLETS and sometimes SAND.

SERGEANT LUGO

Wooh! Sir, how about a flippant wisecrack? You are being voiced by Nolan North after all!

CAPTAIN WALKER

Look out for the quipsand, y'all!

SERGEANT LUGO

Do ho ho!

They all HIGH-FIVE and MOVE ON.

EXT. CITY STREETS - DUBAI

In a PLANE WRECKAGE, DELTA TEAM finds an AMERICAN SOLDIER held HOSTAGE by the INSURGENTS.

CAPTAIN WALKER

Those damn towelheads have one of ours!

LIEUTENANT ADAMS

We must save him! Brothers to the end!

SERGEANT LUGO

Nobody gets left behind!

They ELIMINATE the INSURGENTS, but the SOLDIER dies of his WOUNDS.

CAPTAIN WALKER

Goddamnit! Your death will not be in vain, friend.

INT. HOTEL - DUBAI

Upon entering a HOTEL, DELTA TEAM notices an INSURGENT speaking with a CIA AGENT.

SERGEANT LUGO

Whoa, Americans working with the enemy? That's less straightforward than I was expecting, sir.

CAPTAIN WALKER

Wait, it's just like in Battlefield 3! Those CIA pencil pushers are always funding the bad guys or getting involved in shady and dubious affairs. It doesn't matter as long as we are the righteous soldiers with our righteous boots on the ground!

They are SPOTTED and forced to FIGHT THEIR WAY OUT.

INT. MALL - DUBAI

Inside a MALL, DELTA TEAM finds EMIRATI REFUGEES being rounded up by AMERICAN SOLDIERS.

CAPTAIN WALKER

Look, it's the 33rd! Hey guys! Sure is hot out there, eh? Need a hand with these refugees or anything?

The SOLDIERS start FIRING on DELTA TEAM.

SERGEANT LUGO

What the fuck! We have to fight American soldiers now?

CAPTAIN WALKER

No, it's alright! Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had American troops as enemies in the final levels! It's okay as long as they're rogue!

SERGEANT LUGO

But we saw two of them talking about the incidental beauty of a sun-soaked Dubai earlier. And they were exchanging gum! I think they're being humanised, sir.

CAPTAIN WALKER

Okay, I have to admit I'm getting a little worried now.

While scouting the TOP FLOOR, WALKER is caught in a SAND SLIDE. He goes OUT THE WINDOW and SURVIVES an 800-FOOT DROP.

CAPTAIN WALKER

No cause for alarm, guys! I wouldn't have survived that ludicrous fall if this were anything more than a generic gung-ho military shooter!

WALKER regroups with ADAMS and LUGO.

EXT. MALL - DUBAI

WALKER sees another CIA AGENT, GOULD, being TORTURED by the 33RD, who are also EXECUTING CIVILIANS.

CAPTAIN WALKER

Oh no, we can obviously only save Gould or the civilians! Looks like we're also getting a branching storyline, just like in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2!

SERGEANT LUGO

We need Gould! He can tell us exactly what's going on in Dubai!

LIEUTENANT ADAMS

No, whatever he can give us isn't worth the lives of those civilians!

CAPTAIN WALKER

Thanks for conveniently representing my choices, guys! What to dooo?

WALKER chooses to SAVE THE CIVILIANS, but EVERYBODY ends up DEAD.

CAPTAIN WALKER

Fuck, that was obviously the wrong choice. Let me just go back to the last checkpoint and try again.

This time, WALKER tries to RESCUE GOULD, but EVERYBODY ends up DEAD AGAIN.

LIEUTENANT ADAMS

Sir, I'm afraid this might be a commentary on the fallacy of moral choices.

CAPTAIN WALKER

Pffnaw, it's probably just a scripting error.

SERGEANT LUGO

Check it out, Gould was carrying information on something called The Gate.

CAPTAIN WALKER

Yes, someplace to go to! Let's head out!

EXT. THE GATE - DUBAI

They arrive at THE GATE, which is a CORRIDOR BETWEEN TWO BUILDINGS that's being guarded by LOTS OF TROOPS AND INFANTRY.

LIEUTENANT ADAMS

There's no way we can get past all those troops, sir. Our health doesn't regenerate anywhere near fast enough.

CAPTAIN WALKER

We can use that white phosphorus mortar over there to eliminate them!

SERGEANT LUGO

White phosphorus? That seems a bit excessive.

CAPTAIN WALKER

It'll be fine. Look, the mortar is controlled by an aiming computer, which means it's totally like the AC-130 mission from the first Modern Warfare! We can still remain clinically detached from the horrors we will inflict!

WALKER fires ALL THE PHOSPHORUS ROUNDS at the INDISTINCT WHITE BLOBS.

CAPTAIN WALKER

Job well done, guys! Now let's fade to black and start the next chapter.

(beat)

Aaaaaand fade to black. Any time now.

LIEUTENANT ADAMS

Sir, I think they actually mean for us to go down there.

CAPTAIN WALKER

(sighs)

Fine, FINE!

They RAPPEL down to the ROAD, which is A SMOLDERING RUIN. INCANDESCENT PARTICLES saturate the TOXIC AIR and EAT AWAY at the DYING SOLDIERS, their SCREAMS coalescing into a KEENING WAIL.

CAPTAIN WALKER

They had it coming, guys. They were in our way and stuff.

Around the corner, WALKER finds the REFUGEES from the HOTEL, who are all HORRIBLY BURNT. A MOTHER is CRADLING her CHILD in a GESTURE of FUTILITY, her SCALDED VISAGE still caught in an ACCUSATORY RICTUS trying to CRY OUT in DESPAIR.

CAPTAIN WALKER

Oh, come ON!

SERGEANT LUGO

I don't think I have a snarky comment for this, sir.

LIEUTENANT ADAMS

He's right, sir. I can't keep up the biting satire needed to make this script work.

CAPTAIN WALKER

No, we have to go on! This is just the single scene of horrific hopelessness that all military shooters include for the sake of controversy nowadays! This is our No Russian! Our Davis family vacation! We can still do this!

SERGEANT LUGO

(sobbing uncontrollably)

America yeah.

LIEUTENANT ADAMS

(hugging himself)

Go team.

Up ahead, WALKER comes across A HANDHELD RADIO that puts him in touch with COLONEL KONRAD.

CAPTAIN WALKER

Colonel! This is all your fault!

COLONEL KONRAD

Trying to find someone else to blame again, Walker? It won't work this time. You see, I've been dead all along. You're hallucinating me right now as a manifestation of your guilt.

CAPTAIN WALKER

(voice shaking)

A dissociative disorder? That's just like the reveal in Call of Duty: Black Ops! That means we can still --

COLONEL KONRAD

You're reaching, Walker. When are you going to face up to the fact that this game is not just a military shooter, but a brutal criticism of the genre in its entirety?

CAPTAIN WALKER

Isn't that just a flimsy excuse to freely indulge in the very thing you profess to be indicting?

COLONEL KONRAD

Would the cover system really be so unresponsive if it was? Would the shooting lack so much punch? Would the checkpoints be so frustratingly spaced apart? Face it, Walker. This game is designed from the ground up to make you feel bad on every possible level.

CAPTAIN WALKER

It's not fair! All I wanted was an escapist fantasy through the glorification of violence!

COLONEL KONRAD

And nobody's judging you for wanting that, except I totally am. Now do you realise the foolishness of what this script is trying to accomplish? This is really a deconstruction of a deconstruction.

CAPTAIN WALKER

You're right. To hell with this.

IT WILL NEVER END

Further reading: 

Comments

Pretty good. I'm glad I decided to check your site out. As an aside, I really wish your scripts were centered. Though that's probably just because I'm so used to The Editing Room's layout.

The insurgents actually attack Walker first even though he tries to avoid fighting, and if I were writing this satire I would point out how nonsensical and forced the white phosphorous section is. Walker is never given any compelling reason to do anything beyond checking out the area, and the way you are forced to kill every living thing (including the tightly clustered immobile people who ought to stick out like a sore thumb to an experienced elite soldier) is completely arbitrary. The fact that you have no choice in the matter also hamstrings whatever point the game was trying to make. I've read a few other of these scripts, and I think this time you drank the developers' kool aid and just said exactly what they want people to say. The game is intended to be a "deconstruction" or "condemnation" of the military shooter genre, but it simply fails at it. It shouldn't be given a free pass out of some desire to make video games seem more grownup and intellectual.

Oh, and one other thing: the AC-130 sequence in MW was obviously meant to create a contrast between its detached, videogamey nature* with the immediate, chaotic and violent action on the ground that you experience only moments before. And, to the best of my knowledge, it's a more or less realistic representation of what it's like to be an AC-130 gunner. They are high up in the sky looking at the action through thermal imaging, they aren't sitting in the trenches and dodging bullets. Drones are even more detached from the battlefield, because even if it's shot down the operator is completely safe, and this is something that has often been criticized. Welcome to modern warfare. MW1 is the victim of historical revisionism by the gaming intelligentsia, and is now remembered as an ├╝ber-jingoistic Michael Bay shooter for idiots. The nuclear explosion scene that once shocked players is now never mentioned, and thanks to Spec Ops: The Line the AC-130 sequence has been reinterpreted as being completely unironic. * By videogamey I mean videogamey in-universe, compared to everything else in the game. It is to the game what the game is to real life.

Add new comment