THE SOUND OF DRUMS, from a great distance, growing louder.
WE ARE FLYING through mist, a dimly glimpsed forest below.
When I was lying there in the VA
hospital, with a big hole blown through
the middle of my life, I started having
these dreams of flying.
We are very low over the forest now, gliding fast, the drums
BUILDING to a PEAK --
Sooner or later though, you always have
to wake up...
EXT. CITY - NIGHT
A SCREECH OF BRAKES as a vehicle WIPES FRAME, revealing --
JAKE SULLY, a scarred and scruffy combat vet, sitting in a
beat up carbon-fiber wheelchair. At 22, his eyes are
hardened by the wisdom and wariness of one who has endured
pain beyond his years.
Jake stares upward at the levels of the city. MAGLEV TRAINS
WHOOSH overhead on elevated tracks, against a sky of garish
They can fix a spinal, if you've got the
money. But not on vet benefits, not in
The traffic light changes and Jake pushes forward with the
crowd, pumping the wheels of his chair. Most of the people
wear FILTER MASKS to protect them from the toxic air. In a
LONG LENS STACK it is a marching torrent of anonymous,
INT. JAKE'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
The room is a tiny CUBICLE, prison cell meets 747 bathroom.
Narrow cot, wall-screen droning away in the B.G. --
The Bengal tiger, extinct for over a
century, is making a comeback. These
cloned tiger cubs at the Beijing Zoo
Jake laboriously pulls his pants off -- rocking to one side,
pushing the fabric down past his hip, then rocking to the
other, and so on.
His legs are white and atrophied. Utterly useless. But his
arms are tattooed and powerfully muscled. A "Born Loser"
tattoo prominent on his shoulder.
I became a Marine for the hardship. To
be hammered on the anvil of life. I told
myself I could pass any test a man can
Jake struggles with his pants a long time.
INT. ROWDY BAR -- NIGHT
Not the kind of place you'd bring your mom.
We find Jake near the pool table, BALANCING his chair, front
wheels off the ground, while holding a tequila shot on his
forehead. ONLOOKERS, including some other disabled vets,
CLAP and WHOOP.
Jake grabs the glass, SLAMS down the shot as they cheer.
A WALL-SIZED SCREEN filled with the World Cup game -- men
RUNNING on antelope legs.
CU JAKE, watching what he can't have. Expression stony.
Let's get it straight up front. I don't
want your pity. I know the world's a
Jake's eyes shift -- HIS POV, seeing the bar through gaps in
the crowd. A MAN on a barstool SLAPS the WOMAN he's with.
Hard. She cowers but he's got her arm, shouting, raising his
fist. An eternal tableau. People look away.
CU JAKE -- not looking away.
You want a fair deal, you're on the wrong
planet. The strong prey on the weak.
TIGHT ON JAKE'S HAND as he starts pushing the wheel of his
TRACKING WITH HIM as he rolls forward.
It's just the way things are. And nobody
does a damn thing.
Jake stops, unnoticed, next to the bullying man. He leans
down and grabs one leg of the man's barstool -- and YANKS.
The chair flips. The guy goes down HARD and --
JAKE hurls himself from the wheelchair, toppling on the guy,
getting a grip on him like a pit bull and PUNCHING the crap
out of him, right there on the floor.
THE BOUNCER jumps in, trying to drag him off and it goes into
SLOW MOTION, everybody yelling and pulling...
All I ever wanted in my sorry-ass life
was a single thing worth fighting for.