When an extreme distance runner encounters a human trafficking ring during a desert ultramarathon, he must battle both exhaustion and criminals to save innocent lives – and himself.
Sometimes, a story grabs you. Instantly. Takes command of your senses and doesn’t let go. Maybe it’s the opening action. Perhaps a telling line of dialogue. With Mile 42, it’s the clear and intense imagery that sucks you into the script. A tale solidly set in New Mexico: baking heat, jagged outcrops of rock, parched tarmac shimmers in the sun. NM’s not a state I’ve visited. But now I can say I’ve “seen” it – at least, through this script.
…and the eyes of Jose. The protagonist of the story, Jose’s a competitive long distance runner of the ultra-extreme kind. When we meet him, he’s hitting Mile 42. His base camp support, Cynthia, chatters via bluetooth in his ear, quoting lines from movies. Jose spits titles back at her; it’s a game that keeps his mind focused, even if his physical energy’s on low reserve. But Jose’s determined to soldier on. Miles ahead of him (out of sight) is Timson. His running nemesis and competitor.
Soon, a reception dead spot cuts off Jose’s connection to Cynthia. And he catches up to Timson.
Bullet ridden and dead in the road…
A shot rings out. A bullet tears through Jose’s sleeve. Someone’s shooting at him! The runner darts for shelter – summoning what meager energy he has left.
Scaling a rock, Jose spots his would-be shooter… And uncovers a whole truck of trouble, far beyond the normal concerns of marathons. Corrupt border guards have intercepted a group of illegal immigrants, and plan to hijack them for a slavery ring. Jose’s run smack dab into hell. Stranded in the desert. Alone – and being chased – by a sadistic group of criminals determined to wipe all witnesses from the earth.
Faced with a series of unexpected challenges, Jose battles the odds and desert heat. But can he overcome his own frailties in time to save himself and the others? Or will he end up like poor, dead Timson?
Excellently paced, Mile 42 moves swiftly towards the finish line – a top notch action thriller, with a vibrantly real protagonist. It’s an action short that’ll leave you (and your audience) breathless. Cheering for the hero all the way.
Budget: Given the action scenes and extras, this one’s not meant for a newbie. But a skilled indie director looking to put a shining gem on his resume? That would be a perfect fit!
About the writer: John P. Dowgin is a playwright, screenwriter, director and actor, as well as a founding member of the production company The Porch Room (PorchRoom.com) for whom he directed the original work ‘Antony & Cleopatra: Infinite Lives” at the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival. Two of John’s plays have been published in the compilation “Accidents Happen” by Samuel French, and have been performed in New York, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Toronto, Dublin, and Australia. A number of his screenplays are also in ‘development’, which he suspects to be a theoretical dimension like Oz. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and son.
About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an aspiring screenwriter from the UK with a number of scripts in various stages of production, two of which have just wrapped shooting. His script, A Certain Romance, recently won in the Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition (short script category). You can find out more at AnthonyCawood.co.uk.
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