Nov. 11, 2010
Insurgent
The Capture of Osama Bin Laden
Screenplay By
Josh Becker
Gary Jones

EXT. BARREN DESERT LANDSCAPES – DAY

A barren desert landscape, baking in the sun.  A deep blue sky.  High rocky walls of every shape and size.  Craggy rock-strewn hills.  Enormous boulders sitting at strange angles. 

We hear a female voice singing a ululating Pashtun native tribal song from Afghanistan.

A title reads: “Somewhere near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in the Tribal Frontier.”

EXT. DIRT TRACK – DAY

A 20-year-old, beat-up, blue Toyota Corolla drives quickly along a dirt track through the desert kicking up a cloud of dust behind it.  The car is dwarfed by the enormous landscape.

INT. MOVING CAR – DAY

Driving the blue Toyota is a man wearing a turban, a scarf and native Afghan garb, but is Caucasian.  He is 40 years old, with a deeply tanned, weather-beaten complexion and speaks into a bulky satellite cell phone.  He is ARMSTRONG.  

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                                (into phone)
                                    . . . Yes, that’s right.  From my business
                                    account into my personal account.  Yes. 
                                    Uh-huh.  No, I can’t come into the office
                                    and sign the form, we really have to do
                                    this over the phone. 
                                                (listens)
                                    Yes, I know my account’s overdrawn,
                                    that’s why I’m moving the money into
                                    that account.  Yes, I know they’ve never
                                    been linked up, and I’ve been meaning
                                    to do that for a long time, but, you know,
                                    with one thing and another I haven’t
                                    gotten around to it.  And now the mortgage
                                    payment is due, and I’m not there, and I
                                                (continued)

                                                            ARMSTRONG (cont.)
                                    do have the money, it’s just not in the
                                    right account, see . . . ?
                                                (listens)
                                    No, no, wait, please don’t put me on hold.
                                                (he’s put on hold)
                                    Son of a bitch!

In the backseat of the car is an arsenal: a big 50mm black military rifle with a scope, a small, Uzi submachine gun, boxes of ammunition, MREs, bottles of water, a carton of Marlboros, two 10-gallon cans of gasoline, and a black backpack.

Armstrong rolls up the window, cradles the phone with his shoulder and lights a cigarette.  He opens the window and the smoke is whipped away.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                                (he hears something)
                                    Hello?  Yes, I’m on hold.  I’m waiting
                                    for Mr. Fitzgerald.  Uh-huh, thank you.
                                    I’ll wait.
                                                (he’s put back on hold
                                                so he starts humming)
                                    La la la . . .
                                                (there’s a loud crackle,
                                                then the line goes dead)
                                    Oh, shit!
                                                (he tosses the phone on
                                                the seat)
                                    So, go ahead, take my house.  I’ll just
                                    move my family into the street.  What do
                                    you care?  Assholes!

Armstrong drives along holding the dead phone and thinking.  Considering. 

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                                (mumbles)
                                    I don’t know what I’m gonna do.

Finally, he sighs and dials the phone – it’s a lot of numbers.  The phone rings and rings, then is answered.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Hi, Dad, how’re you?
                                                (listens)
                                    I’m good, thanks.  Yeah, I know, we haven’t
                                                (continued)
                                                            ARMSTRONG (cont.)
                                    talked in a long time.  Here’s the thing, could
                                    you lend me the money to pay my mortgage? 
                                    I’ve got the money, I just can’t get at it.  I’ll
                                    pay you pay back in like a week, OK?
                                                (listens)
                                    It’s fourteen hundred dollars.  Can you do that?
                                    You can?  Great.  I really appreciate it.
                                    Just send it to Sarah and she’ll handle it.
                                                (listens)
                                    Uh, no, I can’t tell you where I am.  And
                                    this call is like a hundred dollars a minute,
                                    so give my love to Mom.  Thanks.  I lo—
                                                (the connection cuts off)
                                    —ve you.

Armstrong sighs, hangs up and sets the phone on the seat beside him.

EXT. BARREN DESERT LANDSCAPE – DAY

The blue Toyota barrels along, a tiny dot at the bottom an enormous rocky landscape.  In the foreground, out of focus, is an Afghani man in a black turban and scarf holding a rifle, watching the car go past.

EXT. DESERT – NIGHT

The car is parked.  Armstrong sits on his backpack outside under stars eating a U.S. Army MRE (Meals Ready to Eat).  He squirts meat paste out onto a cracker, eats it, chews, shrugs – it’s not bad – then drinks some water.  As Armstrong sits eating we see that he’s wearing tan army pants and black army boots under his native robe.  He also has a pistol on his belt.  The submachine gun sits beside him.  He swallows and looks up at the stars.

There are a million stars in the sky.  Constellations, shooting stars, galaxies.

The phone rings and he answers it.  We hear a male VOICE on the other end.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                                (into phone)
                                    Yeah?

                                                            VOICE (O.S.)
                                    What’s your status?

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    On schedule.  Who’s my contact?

                                                            VOICE (O.S.)
                                    Omar Abdul Zahir.

Armstrong writes down the name.
           
                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    And you’re sure of him?

                                                            VOICE (O.S.)
                                    As sure as I can be.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Meaning?

                                                            VOICE (O.S.)
                                    He probably knows where the target is, but
                                    that doesn’t mean you should trust him.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Of course.

                                                            VOICE (O.S.)
                                    This is a high-level target, Armstrong.  Christ,
                                    if you pull this off we’re set for the rest of our
                                    lives.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Your intel better be good.
 
                                                            VOICE (O.S.)
                                    It is.  As good as I can get it.  You having second
                                    thoughts?

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Fuck no.  I’m the one who’s out here in the
                                    middle of abso-fucking-lutely nowhere.  If I
                                    didn’t trust your intel, I wouldn’t be here?

                                                            VOICE (O.S.)
                                    No.  And we’re both gonna get rich, so pull this
                                    thing off.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    I will.

                                                            VOICE (O.S.)
                                    I know you will.  But keep in mind that other
                                    people have this exact same information and
                                    are moving in right now.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Any idea who it is?

                                                            VOICE (O.S.)
                                    No, but they’re probably not as good as you.
                                    You’re the best.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Fucking-A right I am.

                                                            VOICE (O.S.)
                                    Good luck.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Thanks.
                                               
He hangs up and sets the phone down.  He lights a cigarette, inhales deeply, then blows the smoke up into the clear, star-filled sky.

EXT. BARREN DESERT LANDSCAPE/VILLAGE – DAY

The blue Toyota drives across the rocky desert.  Up ahead is a small Afghani village made up of dwellings made of baked mud.  A shepherd walks along with a herd of sheep, Bedouin men lead their camels into the village.

INT. MOVING CAR – DAY

Armstrong has the phone plugged into the lighter, but even still he can’t get it to turn on.  He keeps pushing the button, but nothing happens.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Come on, will you just turn on!

But it won’t.  He tosses it on the seat in disgust.

Armstrong pulls the car over to the side of the road outside the village.  He turns off the engine and gets out of the car.

EXT. BARREN DESERT LANDSCAPE/VILLAGE – DAY

Armstrong leans against the side of the car outside the village.  He takes a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, puts a cigarette in his mouth and lights it.  He looks at his watch.

Armstrong drops his cigarette butt into a pile of five others.  He looks to his right, then to his left.  He sees a man walking slowly up the track toward him.  Armstrong pulls his caftan up over the 9mm Berretta pistol holstered on his belt and unsnaps the cover.  As the man slowly gets closer he sees that it’s an Afghani man in a turban, scarf and robe, cartridge belts crisscross his chest, an AK-47 is strapped across his shoulder.  He is OMAR ABDUL ZAHIR.  Armstrong watches as the Omar wearily steps up to him.

                                                            OMAR
                                    Armstrong?

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Omar Abdul Zahir?

                                                            OMAR
                                    I am he. 
                                                (sighs in exasperation)
                                    We were supposed to meet at the village
                                    of Ekbar.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    This isn’t Ekbar?

                                                            OMAR
                                    No, this is Anzadah.  Ekbar is seven kilometers
                                    east of here.  I had to walk.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                                (grins sheepishly)
                                    Really?  No kidding.  Sorry about that.

                                                            OMAR
                                    Seven kilometers is a long way.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    The two villages looked the same to me.

                                                            OMAR
                                    Well they’re not.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Nice to meet you, too.  Get in.

Armstrong gets into the driver’s seat.  Omar goes around to the passenger door. 

INT. CAR – DAY

Omar takes the rifle off his shoulder, gets in the car, sets the rifle upright between them and shuts the door.  Omar pulls the scarf off his face revealing him to be an Afghani man in his 40s with a slightly graying beard.  Armstrong puts it in gear and drives up the track.

They drive along in silence for a few moments.

EXT. BARREN DESERT LANDSCAPE/VILLAGE – DAY

The blue Toyota passes the Afghan village, heading further off into the desolate wasteland.

INT. MOVING CAR – DAY

Omar sees the exposed pistol on Armstrong’s belt, but says nothing.  Armstrong throws an occasional glance at Omar.
                       
                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    So, you know where Aziz is?

                                                            OMAR
                                    I do.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    How?

                                                            OMAR
                                                (shrugs)
                                    I just know.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    That doesn’t answer my question.  How
                                    do you know?

                                                            OMAR
                                    I’ve been there.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                                (suspicious)
                                    How did you manage that?

                                                            OMAR
                                    I know one of Aziz’s guards. 

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    And he just took you along with him?

                                                            OMAR
                                    Yes.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Why?

                                                            OMAR
                                                (shrugs)
                                    He trusts me.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                                (nods)
                                    I see. 
                                                (Omar gives him a dirty look)
                                    So, is it far?

                                                            OMAR
                                    Yes, and we won’t be able to drive all
                                    the way.  We’ll have to leave the car.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                                (nods; thinks)
                                    So, why are you doing this?

                                                            OMAR
                                    I’m a patriot.  I love my country.  Al
                                    Qaeda has no place here.  We don’t
                                    want them and we don’t need them.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    How about the Taliban?

                                                            OMAR
                                    I don’t think we need them, others think
                                    we do.
 
                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    How about the Americans?

                                                            OMAR
                                    We do need them right now, but not
                                    forever.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    America doesn’t want to be here forever.

                                                            OMAR
                                    That’s what you say, but when American
                                    forces enter a country they rarely leave. 
                                    You still have troops in Germany and
                                    Japan and that war’s been over for nearly
                                    70 years.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    The USA’s the world’s police force.  We’re
                                    just trying to keep the peace.

                                                            OMAR
                                    Is that why you invaded Iraq?

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                                (nods)
                                    Yes.

                                                            OMAR
                                    Al Qaeda wasn’t in Iraq until America
                                    invaded.  Did that make the world more
                                    peaceful?

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Hey.  I’m just a soldier, I do what I’m told.

They ride along in silence for a few more moments.  Finally . . .

                                                            OMAR
                                    So, who do you work for?  The CIA? 
                                    The Army?  Special Forces?  Or are you
                                    an “independent contractor”?

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    You don’t need to know that.  It won’t do
                                    you the slightest bit of good.

                                                            OMAR
                                    No, I suppose not.  I was just curious,
                                    not that it matters.  I want Aziz dead
                                    just as much as you do, and I’ll help you
                                    in any way I can to achieve that goal. 
                                    We both want the same thing, to eliminate
                                    al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Armstrong nods, reaches into his robe and removes a packet of U.S. currency which he hands to Omar.  Omar takes the money and counts it.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    And to make a living, too, of course.

                                                            OMAR
                                    Yes, that, too.

                                    Omar puts the money inside his robe.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    You speak English very well. 

                                                            OMAR
                                    Thank you.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Where did you learn?

                                                            OMAR
                                    At the university in Kabul.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Did you graduate from there?

                                                            OMAR
                                    Yes, I did.  I studied for two years, then
                                    joined the Mujahideen and fought the
                                    Russians for two years, then came back
                                    and finished my degree.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    In what?

                                                            OMAR
                                    History.  I’ve also got a master’s degree. 
                                    I now teach history at the university in
                                    Kabul.  Afghanistan has a very long, rich
                                    history, you know.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    I know it’s been conquered by just about
                                    every world power that ever existed.

                                                            OMAR
                                                (nods and smiles)
                                    Overrun, yes, many times, but never
                                    conquered.  By the Mongols, the Turks,
                                    the Greeks, the Macedonians, the
                                    British, the Russians, the Taliban, and
                                    now the Americans.  Afghanistan is
                                    truly the crossroads of the world.  We
                                    understand that.  We accept it.  Everyone
                                    will come to Afghanistan sooner or later,
                                    whether they like it or not, and some
                                    will get stuck here, and others will die
                                    here.  But we Afghanis, the Pashtun
                                    people, we persevere and we go on.  No
                                    one can ever truly conquer us.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                                (unimpressed)
                                    It’s all how you wanna look at it, I suppose. 
                                    Is that what you teach the kids?

                                                            OMAR
                                                (nods)
                                    Yes, it is.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    When you’re not out killing al Qaeda
                                    leaders, that is.

Omar looks serious as he turns from Armstrong and stares out the window at the passing desert.

                                                            OMAR
                                    That’s correct.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    So, is this like a hobby or a sport to you?

                                                            OMAR
                                    No.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Then you work for someone?

                                                            OMAR
                                    Yes, the university.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Is this an extracurricular activity?

                                                            OMAR
                                                (smiles begrudgingly)
                                    You’re very amusing.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Thank you.  So?

                                                            OMAR
                                    So, what?

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    So, who do you work for?

                                                            OMAR
                                    It wouldn’t do you the slightest bit of
                                    good to know.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Yeah?  I don’t know about that.
                                                           
EXT. DESERT – NIGHT

It’s night and the car is parked.  Armstrong and Omar sit on the ground, Armstrong on his backpack, Omar on a blanket.  They eat in silence.  Armstrong eats another MRE, Omar eats rice from a tin mess kit.  The star-filled desert sky enshrouds them.  Finally . . .

                                                            OMAR
                                    You think that’s just a rationale when I
                                    say that the Afghanis have never been
                                    conquered?

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Invaded, overrun, occupied.  They’re all
                                    just other words for conquered, as far as
                                    I’m concerned.

                                                            OMAR
                                    And you think this is a . . . deficiency in
                                    our national characters?  Or is it simply
                                    a mistake of our geographic location?

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    What does it matter what I think?

                                                            OMAR
                                    I’m interested.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Well . . .  I think this is the asshole of the
                                    world.  It’s a hot, rocky, inhospitable desert,
                                    and I don’t know why anyone would want
                                    to come here, let alone live here.

                                                            OMAR
                                    Why are you here?

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    I’m a professional soldier.  This is where
                                    the fighting is, so this is where I am.

                                                            OMAR
                                    And the politics and the reasons for the
                                    fighting don’t interest you?

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Sure they do.  Al Qaeda isn’t just your
                                    problem, they’re America’s problem, too. 
                                    Don’t forget, America had the deadliest
                                    terror attack of anywhere in the world,
                                    and it was perpetrated by al Qaeda.  They’re
                                    our enemies, too, and I’ll do everything
                                    within my means to eliminate them.

                                                            OMAR
                                    But it doesn’t effect you personally, right?

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Wrong.  It does effect me personally.  I had
                                    a friend who was killed in the World Trade
                                    Center.  He was a fireman.  We grew up
                                    together.  I liked him a lot.

                                                            OMAR
                                    I’m sorry.  I’ve had many friends killed.  I
                                    understand.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Is that why you’re out tracking down and
                                    killing al Qaeda leaders?

                                                            OMAR
                                    That’s part of it.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    What’s the rest of it?

                                                            OMAR
                                    Well . . .  Teaching history is important. 
                                    Those who don’t know the past are doomed
                                    to repeat it.  But teaching history isn’t really
                                    being a part of it.  I don’t want the tide of
                                    history to just wash over me, I want to make
                                    a difference.  Don’t you?

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                                (nods)
                                    Yes, I do.  I don’t have to be here.  I’m here
                                    because I choose to be here.  And I take the
                                    hardest assignments because I believe that
                                    they mean the most.  If it’s possible I’d like
                                    to leave the world a better place than I found
                                    it.

                                                            OMAR
                                    You’re an idealist.  So am I.  It’s the only
                                    way to be, as far as I’m concerned.  You live
                                    your life and you can either hope for the best,
                                    or be afraid expecting the worst.  I hope for
                                    the best.  Do you have children?

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                                (nods again)
                                    Uh-huh.  Two.  A boy and a girl.  Twelve
                                    and fourteen.  You?

                                                            OMAR
                                                (smiles and nods)
                                    Yes.  I have six children.  Five girls and a
                                    boy.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                                (impressed)
                                    Don’t tell me, the boy’s the youngest?

                                                            OMAR
                                    Yes.  It only took six tries, but Allah finally
                                    blessed us with a son.  Not that I don’t love
                                    my daughters every bit as much, of course.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Of course. 

Armstrong reaches into his pocket and retrieves a photograph.  He looks at it for a second, smiles, then hands it to Omar.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Here.  This is them.

Omar looks at the photo, nods and smiles.

                                                            OMAR
                                    Very nice.  You have a an attractive family.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Thanks.

Omar reaches into his caftan and also takes out a photo, which he hands to Armstrong.  Armstrong admires it and nods.

                                                            OMAR
                                    This was taken at my birthday party last
                                    year.  It’s not easy getting everybody to
                                    stand still long enough to get a picture.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    I’ll bet.   Very nice.  And you live in
                                    Kabul?

He hands the photo back.  Omar puts it back inside his caftan.
                                   
                                                            OMAR
                                    Yes.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    You have a house?

                                                            OMAR
                                    No, an apartment.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Eight of you in an apartment?

                                                            OMAR
                                    No, eleven of us, with my parents and
                                    my wife’s mother.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Wow.  Must be a big apartment.

                                                            OMAR
                                    No, it’s actually quite small.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Sounds like you could use a bigger place.

                                                            OMAR
                                    Yes, I could.  But my eldest daughter will
                                    be getting married soon, so she’ll be moving
                                    out.

                                                            ARMSTRONG
                                    Congratulations.

                                                            OMAR
                                    Thank you.  Where do you live in America?

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