'3 Holes and a Smoking Gun': Film Review
A supposedly brilliant unproduced screenplay becomes an object of obsession in this twisty thriller
The plot of the neo-noir thriller 3 Holes and a Smoking Gun revolves around an unproduced screenplay so great that its characters will do nearly anything to get their hands on it.
The sound you may now be hearing is that of writers of endless unproduced screenplays laughing their asses off. In this day and age when studios are primarily interested in presold properties and franchise movies, with even the best works languishing for years on the industry's Black List, the idea of people desperately fighting to get their hands on a thriller called Hijack is more than a little preposterous.
Hilarion Banks' film, written by Scott Fivelson, begins with an extended conversation between the presumed author of the script, young student Jack (newcomer Zuher Khan), and his improbably named teacher Bobbie Blue Day (James Wilder), a former A-list Hollywood screenwriter fallen on hard times who's now teaching an evening screenwriting course.
Convinced that Jack's script is his ticket back to the big leagues, Bobbie offers his student the chance to exploit his connections to get it on the fast track, but only for the price of a shared credit and a full fifty percent of the supposed riches it will bring in.
Jack, whose ignorance of cinema knows no bounds — he wonders if Al Pacino has made any movies since The Godfather, and Bobbie's endless references to such movies as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (the irony is not exactly subtle) go sailing over his head — is understandably reluctant to agree to the deal.
Things get far more convoluted from there as flashbacks reveal the true origins of the MacGuffin-like screenplay and, in one of the more outlandish plot developments, Jack desperately attempts to procure a vintage Remington typewriter from a mysterious junk dealer (Joaquim de Almeida). We're also introduced to Bobby's former and Jack's current love interest (Rebecca Mae Palmer), who finds herself on the wrong end of the "smoking gun" of the title.
By the time Bobby finds himself confronted by a ruthless detective (Richard Edson), who apparently has Hollywood dreams of his own, all credibility has gone firmly out the window.
While it might have made for a mildly diverting stage thriller — the hugely successful Deathtrap, for instance, was built on similarly absurd contrivances — the endlessly talky 3 Holes and a Smoking Gun founders onscreen. That it works to the extent that it does is due to the compelling lead performance by Wilder, who makes Bobby's sweaty desperation fully convincing. His character's downward career trajectory is by far the film's most authentic element.
Production: ZKPassion Motion Pictures
Cast: Zuher Khan, James Wilder, Joaquim de Almedia, Rudolf Martin, Matt Cable, Richard Edson, Howard McNair, Rebecca Mae Palmer, Cara Silverman
Director: Hilarion Banks
Screenwriter: Scott Fivelson
Producer: Zuher Khan
Executive producers: D.J. Dodd, Zulkifal Khan, Sasha Yelaun
Director of photography: John Honore
Composer: Jason Lewis
Not rated, 90 min.