Friday, June 11, 2010

Tactical Mind

This is a film idea I've been kicking around.

A young Aussie woman, say 25 - ish, has an unusual ability. She is able to see catastrophic/fatal events about 70 mins before they happen, but only for people that she cares about or knows. This is not the kind of ability where she sees plane crashes about to happen etc. Unless her sister is on the plane, for example. Most of her friends an family know about it, it's not really talked about, just quietly accepted. As is she. Given that she has saved her family and friends over the years from fatal or terrible injury.

She goes to a club one night and foresees a fire in which all die. She warns her friends and they set about trying to get everyone out. In doing so, she ends up being injured herself in the last second and winds up in hospital. On waking she is greeted by two American officers. They question her about the incident, and manage to get out of her, or basically reveal that they know what she can do. They talk to her about joining the American army as part of a special project - done in concert with the Aus army. They explain to her that they can use her skills to prevent further loss of life in the Iraq war. She tells them that she only sees the future for people she cares about. They say they can take care of that.

She agrees to take a look, (we get that she can't "just take a look" and she does too, but that's the premise that she goes to the USA under). She is taken to a secure facility where she learns that she is one of thousands of people who have the same ability and that the army has been using them for years. Each person with the prescient ability trains with a group of soldiers - gets to know them and usually to care about them.
After all she really only needs to care about one person in the unit. This person - known as the "Tactical Mind (TM)" then travels with the unit and tries to avert any potential danger to the group.

She trains with them starts to care for one (maybe falls for him) and then goes into the field. She meets other much more cynical TM's. 

She watches her information kill local people and save the soldiers. 

She foresees the death of her sister and the army prevent her informing the family - some effort is made, but it's too late. (She out in the enemy territory and contact is minimal).
Her sister dies.

She lets two members of her team get badly injured and the army aren't sure if she did it on purpose or not. It comes to light that the TM's usually burn out fast - many of them finding the conflict too much and the atmosphere of death and war overwhelming.

She is faced finally with a choice that could see her freed from the situation - but many of the soldiers dying. 

So here are the major themes
- Civilians thrown into warfare with no understanding of how it works
- The difficulty in understanding what the war achieves
- Who is the enemy
- The way that war justifies the means - including using people up and discarding them.


  1. Here is simon's awesome comment. I've put it here so that I can think about it.

    To me it is a love story (with a difference). Because for the audience it unexpectedly appears like an action/espionage/war film. Then they notice that this has a different feel to it. I think the difference is that the action/espionage/war has a female perspective to it.

    But I like the idea that the vibe of the romantic element of the film could have an almost male feel/experience/perspective to it.

    In that for men relationships with women are firstly about sex and then about how good being with that woman makes them feel (so if it makes them feel good they stay, if it makes them feel bad they wait until it becomes good or they leave).

    It is honest, yet selfish.

    Is it different for women? I think so for this reason: for women there is so much more at stake in a relationship. So much more responsibility for procreation and for being the most immediate point of reference for caring for the young.

    For the protagonist, her gift exists because she loves family and friends overwhelmingly. This earnestness in her love and concern is so powerful that it becomes supernatural. That's cool.

    But love and concern for only those that she knows is a selfishness. Because who hurts when someone dies. Not the person who goes, they're dead. The person who has to exist without them is the one in pain.

    In our culture grief seems to be most immediately about getting over how the death of a loved on effects us.

    Also, there is a modern stupidity to caring for only those who are friends and family. In ancient tribal times, it was probably smart because it was how you survived against animals of prey to help your tribe to survive.

    But we are in different times. Our tribe is now the whole world. So especially in a war situation, if our enemy is destroyed we might be too.

    I don't know if there is room in your script for it, but I like the idea that if the selfishness for caring for only our loved ones was revealed as selfish, probably stupid and as profoundly immoral.

    I like the idea that by the end of the film we do not identify with caring for only our friends and family.

    Your film idea is subversive. And I really like subversive films. Because perspective is always limited. To be helped to see differently is a gift. Surely that's the point of art.

  2. Sounds a bit like Don't Look Now, but the character can do stuff to prevent death. In DLN Donald Sutherland sees his own death, but like the others he sees he can't prevent it either.

    Have you seen this movie? It might help with the development.

    War is about the end of morality. I wonder if your main character should let some people die because soldiers and civilians are always traded for tactical advantage. Maybe she sees they will be killed one way, then another worse way if she saves them? Unintended consequences? She might see an infinity of deaths for the same person no matter what.

  3. That's interesting. I love the film DLN, it is one of my favourites. A beautiful piece of work about fate, grief and inevitability.

    I guess I wanted to find a compelling way to ask who is worth saving? Aren't we all? Does she do more good at home helping those around her when needed, then in war, where death is a planned for outcome (some of the time). Perhaps there is another darker or more complex reason why these tactical minds are employed.

    It's something to think on..