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OPERATION MERMAN (FEATURE ACTION/ADVENTURE, IN QUEUE)
By Steve Cleary

GENRE: Action, Sci-fi
LOGLINE:

After losing both legs and a lung in a covert mission gone wrong, a cocky and bitter Navy SEAL is re-deployed to thwart a maritime terrorist operation -- outfitted in a mechanized, cybertronic fish-tail designed especially for him.

SYNOPSIS:

OPENING SET PIECE / THE SETUP

On their way to the mission, his buddies remark that they’ll be “back in Coronado eating fish tacos in no time.” “You can have ‘em” he replies, “I hate fish.”

They get ambushed and the buddies get cornered. He does something against orders to save them and does, but on their escape there’s an explosion that kills both men and maims him, taking out both of his legs and a lung. Maybe he learns of a special underwater explosive.

At his de-briefing in the infirmary, he’s condemned for insubordination and may be subject to a court martial. A mystery man watches from the corner.

At the funeral, he’s in his dress whites in a wheel chair, clean-shaven. A mysterious man among the top brass observes him grieve. He excuses himself and goes out to make a phone call “We have our man”.

THE OPPORTUNITY

He falls into a depression, lets himself go (beard), drinks too much and gets in fights. He goes out one night with his buddies and gets drunk. A schlubby pseudo-hipster has words with him about fighting in vain for his country. “Are you gonna hit me?” “You kidding? No.” “Then I’ll hit you.” He pulls him into a jiu jitsu hold, pummels him and the guy passes out as he has him in an arm bar, and freaks out when his stumps are so close to his face. “Tap out! Tap out!” Sirens blare. “He’s not gonna tap out.” It’s the mystery man. He gets him home safely.

Next morning, he awakes to the mystery man in his room. He tells him what he’s facing criminally with the navy and now with the assault on the civilian. But says there’s a second chance for him. He hobbles over to his bench press and busts out 8 reps of 300+ pounds. On his last one, he asks for a spot. He asks for a drink. He asks for a smoke. The mystery man explains he’ll need his organs, what’s left of them. He asks why me? And the mystery man lists off a bunch of his accolades: top in his class, top in BUDS, can hold his breath for 4 minutes. “But I lost a lung” “Okay, 2 minutes then, still better than half your class”. The mystery man explains he still has some recovery and they have a special place for him to convalesce. He declines and tells him to get lost.

His girlfriend comes in and he yells at her to make him a screwdriver. She returns and says she’s leaving him.

He goes on a day bender and re-visits the times with his old buddies. He visits his buddy’s family and they pity him. This hits him hard.

He makes a bee-line to the mystery man’s office and tells him he’ll do it. He hands him a piece of paper and a pen. “You sure?” “Damn sure.” His pen is not a second off the paper when the mystery man nods to a medical technician who jabs him with a needle and he passes out.

THE NEW SITUATION

He wakes up in a strange place. The mystery man is there. He explains that they have to act fast and they need to prepare him for the mission. Several days have actually passed and they outfitted him with a special mechanized lung. The medical technician checks it, then checks the diameter of his legs with measuring tape.

To prove it, the mystery man wheels him out of the bedroom and into a grand room with a weightset and a salt water pool that connects to the outside and into the ocean.

He tells him to jump in the water and he flops around awkwardly, but discovers that he can hold his breath very long due to the mechanics of the new lung. This freaks him out, but he’s jazzed.

He’s explained that he’ll need to train heavily in and out of the water and get used to the new lung so it adapts to his body. His swimming will be done with shear upper-body strength. He asks about his legs “You’re gonna need them. What’s left of them”. He also explains that the lung is only operable to a certain depth, otherwise it will crush like a grape.

He’s ready to begin his training when the mystery man adds that he has to work on his attitude and introduces him to a very good-looking female pyschologist (maybe he ran into her at the bar the night he got in the fight? **Check Days of Thunder to see if they used that already) who will be counseling him on his anger and PTSD.

TRAINING MONTAGE

- Swimming in stumps - asks for flippers

- Bench press, pull-ups, etc

- First counseling session - pumps fists, breaks down in crying, she consoles him

- Swimming in flippers - asks for bigger flippers

- Leg extensions, leg curls, etc

- Meditation “Get in lotus pose” “That’s easy”

- Swimming in bigger flippers

- Checking the leg diamater again - thumbs up by the technician

- Yoga hand-stands, breath-work, etc

- Swimming in bigger flippers - asks how to go even faster. Technician wheels out the “tail”. Marvels at it. “You want me to be half fish?” “You’re a mammal. You’ll be half-porpoise.” “Or well, technically with the lung, half Frog.” “This is crazy.” “Put it on.”

He puts it on the tail by sliding his stumps into their slots. He’s instructed to pump his legs like he’s running, and how to turn. “Like this?” Instantly propels into the pool’s wall, which are padded luckily. They rush to help him, he banged his head but he’s ok. “We’re gonna need a bigger pool.”

They open the gate that goes to the outside and they instruct him to go slow, but he zips right out and feels wonderful swooshing around in the olympic-sized outer pool. “He’s ready.”

THE CHANGE OF PLANS

He’s pigging out on dinner as his metabolism is off the charts. The mystery man asks the psychologist and technician to leave. In walks a 4 star general. He tries to stand at attention with a mouth-ful of food and is told to be at ease.

The general briefs him on his first mission: to plant a tracking device on a freighter suspected of terrorist activity. His size will be undetectable to sonar or they’ll think he’s a shark or whatever.

PROGRESS

He’s taken out on a survellaince ship. The crew look at him curiously as he’s wheeled onto the deck with the strange apparatus attached to his chair. He’s got black-out on, kevlar vest and handgun that fires underwater. He’s also given a mask with built-in goggles and intercom. Still feels uncomfortable with the officers and NCOs in the room.

He slips into his suit and drops into the outtake pool. He confirms the coordinates and is sent on his way.

THE POINT OF NO RETURN

He finds the ship and attaches and activates the tracking device. He’s about to head back but sees a shark! He inches away but it picks up speed. He’s coming straight for him! He’s warned not to surface lest he be caught, but he has a bigger issue to deal with. He pumps his legs as fast as he can and barely beats the fish into the hull of an old ship wreck. He catches his breath and turns a corner, but there’s the shark in his face. He quickly whips out his underwater hand-gun and fires away, killing him.

When he returns, frazzled, he demands that they give him some G$%damn shark reppelent.

He’s met with cheers by the crew.

COMPLICATIONS AND HIGHER STAKES

He continues his counseling sessions with the lady psychologist. He reveals his deepest fears and insecurities. He takes her empathy as a sign to make a move on her, which she rebukes. He goes and lets out steam with a moonlight swim with some dolphins.

Word comes in that the intelligence on the freighter is confirmed and that it rendeveuxed with other tracked ships of enemy affiliation. Further, he’s informed that a ship operated by the terrorists is armed with tons of explosives and is being sent to Long Beach harbor to be the biggest terrorist attack of human history and would result in damages of several hundreds of billions of dollars and would cripple the world economy.

His mission is to plant an explosive device on the ship before it reaches the harbor, but it must be done when the ship is still several miles out to sea otherwise there will be world-wide panic.

He’s introduced to his team, Navy SEALS that he’s worked with before. He’s happy to see them, but one of them isn’t quite so happy as he was tight with one of the SEALS that died in the operation and there’s a little bit of tension between them.

They’re briefed on the mission: The SEAL teams will go out in stealth boats to draw fire from the flanking terrorist boats so they can get him close enough to plant the device. Maybe they call it Operation Bootleg or something as the boat he must be in must be a decoy that’s able to get through.

They set off on the mission and all begins to go according to plan, but one of the terrorist boats isn’t taking the bait of the other boats and comes directly at them. They get in a firefight and our hero does his best to help out in his disabled capacity. They’re soon overwhelmed by the other terrorist boats and they suffer heavy casualties, but they push through as far as they can and the jig being up, they order him off the boat though he’ll have barely enough air to get to the target submerged.

THE MAJOR SETBACK

He dives in and heads toward the ship, but sees it’s taking a different course. They’re headed for San Diego and now he has a lot less time. He scrambles to get there and is met by enemy in underwater quick-moving submersibles and comes under fire. He dodges and weaves to the best of his ability and fires back, being chased, causing them to crash into each other, etc.

THE CLIMAX

He evades the lst of the submersibles and time is running out. He makes it to the ship and plants the explosives. He has to get out of there as they will detonate in under a minute and the ship is approaching san diego harbor. He’s thwarted by one last submersible that evaded him before. They take out half of his fin, cutting his speed in half. He has one bit of explosive left and attaches it to a harpoon, shoots at the submersible and it explodes. He swims as fast as he can and the ship explodes, propelling him and knocking him out.

Meanwhile, the other SEAL teams finish off the remaining enemy and they dash to find him, but he’s unresponsive on the intercom (he has a tracking device of his own on him the whole time). They pull him in and it’s the guy he’s had tension with.

The ship explodes and onlookers from shore see the blast and panic. Our hero doesn’t come to as they try to revive him. Finally he comes to and asks the guy who was giving him CPR if he’d eaten fish. The control room erupts in cheer.

THE AFTERMATH

They return to ship and the mystery man, psychologist and technician are there to greet him. They return to the hide-out where he goes for a vistory swim with his team in the boat. He jumps with the dolphins.

Steve Cleary

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