critique I would love honest feedback on this synopsis

From what I gather in screenwriting books, it's a common mistake to start writing the screenplay before you have a good title + logline + synopsis. I think of this as the 3x combo. Therefore, I'm not starting before I get feedback on my project. I see this as a drama/action/comedy.

Title: The Pedophile Crusher

Logline 1: When a pro MMA fighter’s daughter is kidnapped and killed by a powerful pedophile ring, he will do anything to avenge her.

Logline 2: As a pro MMA fighter’s daughter is kidnapped and killed by a powerful pedophile ring, he has a mental breakdown. He must break out of the high security psyche ward, run by the sadistic doctor that ordered the kidnapping, and avenge his daughter.

Synopsis (498 words): Life is good for Thor Thorson. As a happy father of a 5-year-old daughter, an appreciated teacher at the local elementary school, and a skilled MMA fighter – Thor is kicking ass on a daily basis.

On the way home from the local animal store, Thor gets caught in the doorway as four men rush out of a van with tinted windows and grab his daughter. Thor explodes through the door and drops the first man like a sack of potatoes. He fights off the other guys, but must rush his daughter’s lifeless body to the hospital.

As he finds out she was dosed with the short acting sedative Propofol – and is going to be okay – the police on site disappear around a corner with his daughter. A chase through the hospital leads to a car chase, and his daughter dies on impact when colliding with a large truck.

Thor loses his mind and is commited to a high security psyche ward, run by the sadistic doctor that ordered the kidnapping of his daughter. As a drugged up Thor manages to save a young girl from being raped by the doctor twice, he and his newfound hippie hacker friend – Bob – manages to escape with the girl.

The girls dad – a retired vet – is so thankful he wants to help them out with all his gear and military equipment. Bob uses his hacking skills to break into the doctors phone, and see that the next kidnapping target is a student of Thor. They show up with all their gear and proceed to kill the van guys and demolish their van.

High on adrenaline, they go to a strip club and party hard. Right as Thor bonds with a stripper he’s seen before, the police raid the place with a big SWAT team. Thor, Bob, the old man and Thors stripper friend is arrested. They put Thor alone in the cell and start to beat on him. The other three, chained to a radiator in the main room, start to make so much noise people outside peer through the windows.

After much commotion, the police realize they are out of options and let them go. After getting their stuff, they come back, break in through the fire exit, kill the police, and free Thor.

They are met by the FBI, who isn’t happy, but agree to not charge them as long as they tell them everything they know. They did, after all, risk their lives taking out an evil pedophile ring. Thors only demand is that he gets the doctor. They go to a local MMA show and sign them up to fight. The announcer introduces Thor as “The Pedophile Crusher”, and the pot-bellied doctor as “The Serial Child Molester”. Thor beats him into the ground.

Thor gets his class back. A year later, Thor is 7-0 in professional MMA. Bob, the old man, and Thors stripper friend is there to cheer him on.
 
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mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
I always write the screenplay first, and the synopsis & logline after. I don't want the development of my story to be artificially constrained by a synopsis.

Actually, I write a detailed outline first - then re-write it and re-write it again (currently in the middle of that for a project). Then I write and re-write and re-write the screenplay. Many things change along the way, so the synopsis and logline come last.

I'm not saying that I'm right - just that that's how I do it.
 
I always write the screenplay first, and the synopsis & logline after. I don't want the development of my story to be artificially constrained by a synopsis.

Actually, I write a detailed outline first - then re-write it and re-write it again (currently in the middle of that for a project). Then I write and re-write and re-write the screenplay. Many things change along the way, so the synopsis and logline come last.

I'm not saying that I'm right - just that that's how I do it.
Thanks for the response. I'm new to this game so my plan will definately change over time. But currently I do these three and then write a treatment, which is a detailed outline like you mentioned. I did write a treatment for this story, as I've worked with it for a couple weeks now. Any thoughts on the plot itself? Does anything strike you as unreasonable? =)
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
The logline is not captivating enough simply because it is common sense. A dad would do anything. What is the anything? Can you tease that without giving it away? Also "kidnapped and killed" sounds busy, as in, too much info in one space. Perhaps use kidnapped earlier, and killed later in the logline, or just the important one, killed. Or use the word murder. These are just quick opinions. The goods new is, I get the plot right away.
 
The logline is not captivating enough simply because it is common sense. A dad would do anything. What is the anything? Can you tease that without giving it away? Also "kidnapped and killed" sounds busy, as in, too much info in one space. Perhaps use kidnapped earlier, and killed later in the logline, or just the important one, killed. Or use the word murder. These are just quick opinions. The goods new is, I get the plot right away.
Your critique is fair and I agree with you 100%. I had a longer 2-sentence logline that I played around with before:

As a pro MMA fighter’s daughter is kidnapped and killed by a powerful pedophile ring, he has a mental breakdown. He must break out of the high security psyche ward, run by the sadistic doctor that ordered the kidnapping, and avenge his daughter.

But this one was critiqued for giving the plot away.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
That one is too long and detailed. I think if you can find a middle ground and simply hint and what is at risk for him instead of the cliche "do anything."
 

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
I'd like the synopsis better if somehow the ring took the wrong girl - they were supposed to take the daughter of an accountant or lawyer or whatever, but (a) made a mistake or (b) she wasn't where she was expected to be, so they took the girl who was there.
 
I'd like the synopsis better if somehow the ring took the wrong girl - they were supposed to take the daughter of an accountant or lawyer or whatever, but (a) made a mistake or (b) she wasn't where she was expected to be, so they took the girl who was there.
It's interesting that commented that since I have considered whether to make the kidnapping targeted, or random (first victim that fits the criteria). As it stands right now in the script, they took a girl of around that age to sell off to human traffickers. So "random". The girl dies in the second kidnapping attempt and never gets molested. I considered giving her the Madeleine Mccann eye defect, for example. The pedos could also be working off a gene database, and pick target from that. The MC could be a successful amateur fighter but not pro, and then it wouldn't show up when they searched on him.

In the plot, the kidnappers sit in a van on a parking lot outside an animal store, where lots of kids come and go, and they think she is a easy target and go for her.
 
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My totally unsolicited notes/comments/changes........

Use "human traffickers" or "sex traffickers" instead of "pedophiles." Technically the abductors aren't pedophiles, they're opportunists who traffic young children to pedophiles.

I dislike the name "Thor" for your protagonist - matter of taste. If it's his professional name, okay, but use his real name throughout.

As far as the plot/story....

His daughter is a target of opportunity; okay.

Thor sees and talks to Bob (or perhaps is recognized by fans? Combo of both?). Bob is a former Special Forces tech/intelligence type, now Thor's media/tech/PR guy; provides a previous bond and explains Bobs awesome computer hacking skills and access to weaponry and other resources, also introduces Bob earlier.

The meeting with Bob (or schmoozing with fans/combo thereof) explains Thor's lack of vigilance when his daughter is taken, plus Bobs willingness to help later, as Bob feels partly responsible for the death of Thor's daughter.

Thor chases the kidnappers and the daughter dies (as do her kidnappers) in the ensuing car chase (tightens it up some), making her death arguably Thor's fault, which would account for his extreme despondency. Bob is the one to convince Thor to commit himself. Again, more of Bobs friendship with Thor and his commitment to the cause later.

Thor discovers the psych facility is a transit point for human trafficking and tells Bob. The authorities don't believe them; Thor is a nut job in a psych ward, right? With Bobs help Thor rescues a number of young girls & boys and exposes the trafficking ring. Mr. Big and a few accomplices manage to get away, but Bobs hack gives authorities all the evidence that they need. The authorities rescue more children, pick up quite a few lower level accomplices, but no major players.

The police & FBI give Thor and Bob a hard time during the post rescue (non-violent) interviews, but no one is going to prosecute, and certainly no jury would convict, someone who rescues children and takes down a human trafficking ring. (Thor and Bob would not kill police/FBI [unless the police/FBI are affiliated with the trafficking ring?]; Thor and Bob are the good guys.)

The stripper thing is so cliche. make the woman the mother of one of the abducted children. That's a better bond in my IMHO.

Thor's glorious reintroduction party to the MMA scene is revenge attacked by thugs affiliated with the trafficking ring and a bloodbath ensues. Mom and some MMA friends are seriously injured or killed in the melee. Police and FBI again rigorously (but non-violently) interrogate Thor and Bob, who are again released.

Thor and Bob embark on intelligence gathering and recon to exact their own revenge. Unknown to them an FBI agent is tailing them.

Arriving at the final showdown we have the agent confront Thor with the classic "I can't let you do this" scene. Finally the agent concedes, "clock me a good one so I can't be a witness." Thor knocks the agent out. Thor and Bob go full Rambo on the facility, and Thor has his final MMA confrontation with Mr. Big, who is not soft but really tough, but ultimately no match for Thor. You're bad guy can't be a wimp; it's an action flick, right?

Anyway, my two unsolicited ducats.
 
My totally unsolicited notes/comments/changes........

Use "human traffickers" or "sex traffickers" instead of "pedophiles." Technically the abductors aren't pedophiles, they're opportunists who traffic young children to pedophiles.

I dislike the name "Thor" for your protagonist - matter of taste. If it's his professional name, okay, but use his real name throughout.

As far as the plot/story....

His daughter is a target of opportunity; okay.

Thor sees and talks to Bob (or perhaps is recognized by fans? Combo of both?). Bob is a former Special Forces tech/intelligence type, now Thor's media/tech/PR guy; provides a previous bond and explains Bobs awesome computer hacking skills and access to weaponry and other resources, also introduces Bob earlier.

The meeting with Bob (or schmoozing with fans/combo thereof) explains Thor's lack of vigilance when his daughter is taken, plus Bobs willingness to help later, as Bob feels partly responsible for the death of Thor's daughter.

Thor chases the kidnappers and the daughter dies (as do her kidnappers) in the ensuing car chase (tightens it up some), making her death arguably Thor's fault, which would account for his extreme despondency. Bob is the one to convince Thor to commit himself. Again, more of Bobs friendship with Thor and his commitment to the cause later.

Thor discovers the psych facility is a transit point for human trafficking and tells Bob. The authorities don't believe them; Thor is a nut job in a psych ward, right? With Bobs help Thor rescues a number of young girls & boys and exposes the trafficking ring. Mr. Big and a few accomplices manage to get away, but Bobs hack gives authorities all the evidence that they need. The authorities rescue more children, pick up quite a few lower level accomplices, but no major players.

The police & FBI give Thor and Bob a hard time during the post rescue (non-violent) interviews, but no one is going to prosecute, and certainly no jury would convict, someone who rescues children and takes down a human trafficking ring. (Thor and Bob would not kill police/FBI [unless the police/FBI are affiliated with the trafficking ring?]; Thor and Bob are the good guys.)

The stripper thing is so cliche. make the woman the mother of one of the abducted children. That's a better bond in my IMHO.

Thor's glorious reintroduction party to the MMA scene is revenge attacked by thugs affiliated with the trafficking ring and a bloodbath ensues. Mom and some MMA friends are seriously injured or killed in the melee. Police and FBI again rigorously (but non-violently) interrogate Thor and Bob, who are again released.

Thor and Bob embark on intelligence gathering and recon to exact their own revenge. Unknown to them an FBI agent is tailing them.

Arriving at the final showdown we have the agent confront Thor with the classic "I can't let you do this" scene. Finally the agent concedes, "clock me a good one so I can't be a witness." Thor knocks the agent out. Thor and Bob go full Rambo on the facility, and Thor has his final MMA confrontation with Mr. Big, who is not soft but really tough, but ultimately no match for Thor. You're bad guy can't be a wimp; it's an action flick, right?

Anyway, my two unsolicited ducats.
Thanks for all that input. Maybe all that stuff after MY ending could fit for a sequel.
 
Here is an expanded synopsis with all the structural elements described.

<===ACT I START===>

SETUP 0-10%
Life is good for Thor Thorson. As a happy father of a 5-year-old daughter, an appreciated teacher at the local elementary school, and a skilled MMA fighter – Thor is kicking ass on a daily basis.

NEW SITUATION 10-25%
On the way home from the local animal store, Thor gets caught in the doorway as four men rush out of a van with tinted windows and grab his daughter.

Thor explodes through the door and drops the first man like a sack of potatoes. He fights off the other guys, but must rush his daughter’s lifeless body to the hospital.

As he finds out she was dosed with the short acting sedative Propofol – and is going to be okay – the police on site disappear around a corner with his daughter.

A chase through the hospital leads to a car chase, and his daughter dies on impact when colliding with a large truck.

<===ACT I END===>

<===ACT II START===>

PROGRESS 25-50%
Thor loses his mind and is committed to a high security psyche ward, run by the sadistic doctor that ordered the kidnapping of his daughter. Thor is medicated into a zombie.

But when a compromised Thor manages to save a teenage girl from being raped by the doctor twice, he is strapped down into a medical bed and tortured with the ECT machine.

Since the ECT machine causes brain damage and remove short term memory, the doctor confesses that they targeted Thor’s daughter because she seemed alone and fit the criteria. They were going to abuse her for years, kill her, and sell her organs on the black market.

COMPLICATIONS & HIGHER STAKES 50-75%
The day after, Thor and his newfound hippie hacker friend – Bob – manages to escape with the teenage girl.

The girls dad – a retired vet – is so thankful he wants to help them out with all his gear and military equipment.

Bob uses his hacking skills to break into the doctor's phone, and see that the next kidnapping target is a student of Thor. They show up with all their gear and proceed to kill the van guys and demolish their van.

High on adrenaline, they go to a strip club and party hard. Right as Thor bonds with a stripper he has trained with at his gym, the police raid the place with a big SWAT team.

Thor, Bob, the old man and Thor's stripper friend is arrested. They put Thor alone in the cell and start to beat on him.

<===ACT II END===>

<===ACT III START===>

THE FINAL PUSH 75-90%
The other three, chained to a radiator in the main room, start to make so much noise that people start peering through the windows. The police decide to let them go, as they want no witnesses.

The group of three steal a motorcycle, break into a nearby gun store, gear up, come back, break in, kill the police, and free Thor.

They are met by the FBI, who isn’t happy, but agree to not charge them as long as they tell them everything they know. They did, after all, risk their lives taking out an evil pedophile ring.

Thors only demand is that he gets the doctor. But he’s in bad shape. An ambulance comes and treats Thor wounds, give him oxygen, blood, and an adrenaline shot.

They go to the doctor’s house, tie him up, bring him to a local MMA show, and sign them up to fight. The announcer introduces Thor as “The Pedophile Crusher”, and the pot-bellied doctor as “The Serial Child Molester”.

A physically weakened but furious Thor smashes the doctor into pieces, and does not stop when the ref jumps in to stop the fight, forcing security personnel to break them up.

AFTERMATH 90-100%
Dressed up as medics, Bob and the old man carry the doctor into the ambulance and drive away.

Thor gets his class back.

Thor visits his daughters grave, but become temporarily blind when he looks at her gravestone.

Two years later, Thor is 8-0 in professional MMA. He drops his opponent with a brutal head kick, and continue to pound his limp body before the ref jumps in. Bob, the old man, and Thor's stripper friend is there to cheer him on. She has an engagement ring on her hand.

The FBI agent stands at the back of the arena, with a neutral expression on his face.

<===ACT III END===>
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
From what I gather in screenwriting books, it's a common mistake to start writing the screenplay before you have a good title + logline + synopsis. I think of this as the 3x combo. Therefore, I'm not starting before I get feedback on my project.
I've never started with a good title + logline + synopsis so I
don't agree that that is a common mistake. Okay, not exactly
true; I've started with a good title... I've also never waited to
start until I get feedback. For me, a story is very personal and
I don't really want the opinions of other writers to influence me.

So I'm not going to jump in with my, personal, opinion/take on
your story. I think you have a good story here. At some point
you should drop all the "rules" and "guidelines" and just write.
 
I've never started with a good title + logline + synopsis so I
don't agree that that is a common mistake. Okay, not exactly
true; I've started with a good title... I've also never waited to
start until I get feedback. For me, a story is very personal and
I don't really want the opinions of other writers to influence me.

So I'm not going to jump in with my, personal, opinion/take on
your story. I think you have a good story here. At some point
you should drop all the "rules" and "guidelines" and just write.
Right. I certainly don't prescribe any type of method, I'm just repeating what Blade Snyker says in his book.
 
I'm not a big MMA fan or anything, but I'll share my thoughts.
This story sounds similar to "Taken" except that in that movie (spoiler alert) Liam Neeson's character rescues his daughter at the end; but in this story, the protagonist loses his daughter pretty early on. The daughter's death seems to be what sets everything into motion. As far as story and character motivations go, I'm not a big fan of the idea that this guy loses his daughter, wants revenge, gets revenge and the loss of the daughter has practically no further impact on the character. It's not even like the main character gets to feel good about the fact he saved his daughter in the end. I guess he does save someone else's daughter, but it was not his primary goal. Personally, I would either have the protagonist's daughter be kidnapped and not killed (and the hero must save her) OR maybe the hero has two daughters (one dies but the other is still hostage) so that in the end it feels like the hero accomplishes more than just beating up people who wronged him. I get it if you want your story to be different from Taken, but the idea that in the end the character is not seriously moved in any way by his daughter's death feels weird (how has Thor changed, what is he going to do differently in his life now that his daughter is gone) I'm not saying the ending has to be depressing or he kills himself because his life has no meaning, but I would either (A) make the daughter's death have a way bigger impact on the protagonist's character development or (B) not have the daughter die (or anything else super drastic) so that your ending doesn't feel so out of place. Thor winning an MMA match is fine and getting engaged to someone he just met, but it wasn’t exactly a satisfying conclusion to a story where his 5-year old girl is kidnapped and dies. In other words he got his revenge, now what?
 
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I'm not a big MMA fan or anything, but I'll share my thoughts.
This story sounds similar to "Taken" except that in that movie (spoiler alert) Liam Neeson's character rescues his daughter at the end; but in this story, the protagonist loses his daughter pretty early on. The daughter's death seems to be what sets everything into motion. As far as story and character motivations go, I'm not a big fan of the idea that this guy loses his daughter, wants revenge, gets revenge and the loss of the daughter has practically no further impact on the character. It's not even like the main character gets to feel good about the fact he saved his daughter in the end. I guess he does save someone else's daughter, but it was not his primary goal. Personally, I would either have the protagonist's daughter be kidnapped and not killed (and the hero must save her) OR maybe the hero has two daughters (one dies but the other is still hostage) so that in the end it feels like the hero accomplishes more than just beating up people who wronged him. I get it if you want your story to be different from Taken, but the idea that in the end the character is not seriously moved in any way by his daughter's death feels weird (how has Thor changed, what is he going to do differently in his life now that his daughter is gone) I'm not saying the ending has to be depressing or he kills himself because his life has no meaning, but I would either (A) make the daughter's death have a way bigger impact on the protagonist's character development or (B) not have the daughter die (or anything else super drastic) so that your ending doesn't feel so out of place. Thor winning an MMA match is fine and getting engaged to someone he just met, but it wasn’t exactly a satisfying conclusion to a story where his 5-year old girl is kidnapped and dies. In other words he got his revenge, now what?
Thx for the feedback! Your critique is valid and if you read the updated, longer, version on the synopsis posted 2 spots above your answer, that problem is adressed. Watching a fictional character to through the fire without change feels meaningless, did this story not even change a FAKE character??!! Then why should I care?

Right. He is a single parent and loses his only daughter. This is so traumatic he becomes temporarily insane. But he comes back to reality and manages, in the end, to avenge his daughter. In the current, updated version of the story THOR has a dark character arc, where his inability to move on from his daughter's death kills a part of his humanity, and this changes his relationship to violence from strictly professional to going overboard and getting satisfaction out of hurting the bad guys.

[From the updated synopsis, in AFTERMATH, last 10% of the story]

Thor visits his daughters grave, but become temporarily blind when he looks at her gravestone.

Two years later, Thor is 8-0 in professional MMA. He drops his opponent with a brutal head kick, and continue to pound his limp body before the ref jumps in. Bob, the old man, and Thor's stripper friend is there to cheer him on. She has an engagement ring on her hand.


He has become THE PEDOPHILE CRUSHER. His daughter's death, the ECT torture, and the very severe beating in jail pushes him over the edge, to the other side, so to speak. He's still a good guy at heart, but he has changed. Throughout the story, over the engagements, you can see that he becomes slightly more brutal over time. He is sacrificing his humanity to accomplish his goal.

I recently saw the movie JOKER which featured an MC with a dark character arc. It was very interesting. Thor has both a positive arc and a negative arc. He goes from avoiding reality with insanity and medication, to confronting it head on, for example. He is awarded by achieving his goal but has to give up some of his humanity in return.

Let me know what you think of this. It might not at all be what you had in mind. It does feel meaningless to watch someone go through all this tumoil without it changing them. I feel like all mindless action movies have this in common, for example. Nobody learns anything, there is no growth, no change.
 
Hey,
As someone who is dying to get into the film business, or at least to actually make a home-movie, I want to be very careful about what I say because I've had my concept (not even a script) picked to death and it was pretty crushing. I've since recovered and I think I got a really killer concept right now (still no script) but I know that I still have a lot ahead of me and that when my ideas are attacked brutally, I lose interest in my own ideas and almost want to give up. So I don't want to discourage you from making your movie and I don't think you should throw the whole thing out, but I really think it's missing something.

I've literally spent all day today thinking about what it was that I was trying to say last night. Aside from the fact there are some serious real-world consequences to breaking into gun stores, killing police officers, and beating the crap out of someone in a public setting (even if they tell the FBI everything they know) there is something that's hard to describe that your story is missing. I'll try my best to explain what I was thinking about all day.

I've already said I'm not an MMA fan or anything, but I have seen Taken and John Wick {spoilers coming} (which are the first two things I'm reminded of when I read your story). Both of these movies ARE revenge movies in which objectively bad people pick on a guy who the audience likes (and who happens to have a very particular set of skills). 2 hours later, they get their revenge and the movie ends... but something else happens too that makes the ending just a little more satisfying. For instance, in Taken, Liam Neeson's character is trying to build a closer relationship with his daughter who lives with her mother (because he is divorced). His daughter wants to go to Europe even though Liam Neeson doesn't want her to and of course she gets taken. In that movie, we see that his daughter's friend dies, but he is able to save his daughter. At the end of the movie after he got his revenge (which was the secondary goal) he also saved his daughter (which was the primary goal). As a result, he is now able to build that closer relationship to his daughter that he wanted earlier. So in a weird way, things turn out for the better despite all the horrible crap in the middle.

In John Wick, his wife is already dead. John Wick is basically on the edge of killing himself until he gets a package from his late wife who figured his life would need purpose after she dies. The gift was a puppy (which needs caring for) and as the movie implies, John Wick just might have killed himself if it weren't for the fact his wife's last wish was to care for a dog. Tragically, bad people break into his house, they kill the dog, and steal his car. Of course, John Wick has nothing to lose so he wants revenge. He isn't rescuing his wife or dog, he just wants revenge (comparable to your movie). So, he goes through everything and kills everyone that stands in his way until he gets to the father of the man he wanted to kill (and already killed). They have their one-on-one duel and during the fight, John Wick lets the other guy stab him in the stomach (which could be a slow way to die). While nobody is surprised the John Wick would kill the old man, we are hanging on the edge of our seats as to whether or not John would lose the will to live and allow himself to die since he has nothing left to live for. Fortunately, he breaks into an animal shelter to get medicine for his wounds and he picks a dog to take as his own (which communicates to the audience that John still wants to live and he has a new purpose in life).

What I'm trying to say is that your story could really benefit from this extra emotional SOMETHING at the end that shows the character has changed and that comes full circle with where they were before. Based on what I read, you kind of do this by having Thor cry when he revisits his daughters grave but that's like it. He gets his job back and he is still really good at MMA but there really isn't anything special or emotional that leaves the audience with an impression that Thor has really changed since the very beginning of the movie. I mean more than just beating the crap out of the people who wronged him. Being a physically capable fighter at the beginning of the movie, getting wronged, using said skills you already had to beat up said people that wronged you and ending the movie as a capable fighter who's still really good at fighting isn't character development. I'm not saying you should do this but like if Thor decided his "fighting days are over" once he takes out the evil doctor and he never strikes another man for pay or pleasure again would be character development. We saw him be brutal but we also see that after he used his skills to fight evil people, he can't bring himself to fight people anymore that are not a threat (versus walloping a guy in an arena for pay/prestige). I mean, the combination of a daughter's death and getting revenge would really do something to someone. Call it mushy or whatever, but some real "I'm not the man I used to be" moment should happen or something. You can't replace a daughter that was killed, but something should happen in the end that fills that hole in Thor's life. In both John Wick and Taken, when you see the characters at the beginning and at the end, it's almost like they are better off now than they were before (not in terms of wealth or fame, but as people). It's like this extra layer that adds emotional depth. I will say that John Wick 2 and Taken 3 do not have this emotional depth/layer, which is why the endings are unsatisfying (even though they get their revenge and look good doing it). Getting engaged to a stripper you met halfway through the movie and that helped you beat the crap out of the people that killed your daughter just doesn't quite fill this hole entirely, unless there is a lot more to her character as well.

I know this is a lot of text (thank you for reading it if you made it this far), but I'm not nitpicking your story as much as I'm just taking a super-long time to try to describe a subtle quality that makes similar revenge movies just a bit more satisfying (in my opinion).
 
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