"Wait...this isn't a new Matrix movie? I, uh, I'll go change."

MORTAL ENGINES

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

EXT. LONDON-ON-WHEELS

The movie opens on a typical DESOLATE MUD-DESERT POST-APOCALYPTIC WASTELAND, across which trundles a less-typical CITY WHICH IS ALSO A GIANT TANK. At the command post is HUGO WEAVING.

HUGO WEAVING

Centuries ago, mankind suffered a devastating futuristic war which blighted the landscape. We survived through taking the logical next step of uprooting all our major towns and cities, sticking wheels on them, and driving them around the desert chasing each other like Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner.

(shrugs)

I guess somebody wanted to one-up Mad Max, and did it in the most childish way they could think of. You know, the Starkiller Base strategy.

DRIVER

A small townmobile, dead ahead! Should we pursue them, Captain? Or - or Mr. Mayor? What do we call you?

HUGO WEAVING

Actually I’m not in charge around here. I’m just a celebrity archaeologist.

DRIVER

...Okay, leaving aside the question of whether that’s even a thing, why are you telling the whole city where to go? Pretty sure you shouldn’t have that kind of authority.

HUGO WEAVING

Yeah well, to help me be the main villain, they’re just saying I have whatever authority I feel like having in any given scene. FULL SPEED AHEAD!

They chase the tiny town and SWALLOW IT UP with their big TOWN MOUTH.

INT. MUSEUM

In another part of the city/tank, HUGO’S DAUGHTER LEILA GEORGE goes to speak with trainee historian ROBERT SHEEHAN.

ROBERT SHEEHAN

Aha, so this must be where we finally reveal whether I actually did become a vampire or not.

LEILA GEORGE

I think you’re getting mixed up with another limp YA adaptation starting with “Mortal”. Anyway, as you know, I’m currently majoring in clumsy foreshadowing at Big Wheely London University. You wouldn’t happen to know where I could get a fuckton of backstory and Chekhov’s guns by any chance?

ROBERT SHEEHAN

Certainly! So the fall of civilization happened due to a futuristic superweapon called MEDUSA, which requires a special MacGuffin box to activate, and can only be destroyed with a special USB stick. The only way bad guys could make a new one these days is if they found a MacGuffin box PLUS a whole bunch of ancient evil components very much like the ones I have in a big pile here.

LEILA GEORGE

You - you have a big pile of evil machine parts?

ROBERT SHEEHAN

I didn’t want them to fall into the wrong hands, so I’m collecting them in secret so that later I can dump them in a swamp. Instead of, you know, just dumping them over the side of the city right now to be pulverized into atoms under our gigantic tank treads. Here, let me show you my secret hiding place for them!

LEILA GEORGE

Woah, hold on! Aren’t you worried that some random bad guy might be picking right this moment to peer into this one obscure little room tucked away in the most boring part of the technodrome?

ROBERT SHEEHAN

Oh ho ho, I hardly think this movie is THAT contrived. Now come on, let’s go see if that little village we ate has any cool loot!

INT. INDUCTION AREA

ROBERT leads LEILA down to the area where the town is being dismantled for all its LOOT and PEOPLE.

ROBERT SHEEHAN

I have to be quick to try and get hold of any antique electronics this place might have! The folks down here tend to just indiscriminately toss everything into the fuel tank. Which kind of makes it extra stupid that I deliberately salvaged all that evil tech in order to destroy it, rather than just stand back and let it be set on fire.

LEILA GEORGE

Wait. This town uses antique electronics as fuel?

ROBERT SHEEHAN

Sure, why not.

HUGO then welcomes all the PEOPLE from the EATEN TOWN.

HUGO WEAVING

Don’t worry folks, we’ll make sure you all get homes, food, and jobs! Because when we cannibalize a town for its resources, we also take on all the inhabitants, who will then need an equivalent amount of resources to what we just acquired! So the whole thing kind of cancels itself out pointlessly.

PEOPLE

Hooray! We’re going to applaud you, fifty feet away from where your men are tearing our homes apart with giant chainsaws!

Then masked woman HERA HILMAR emerges from the crowd, and comes at HUGO with a knife!

HERA HILMAR

VENGEANCE!! I deliberately boarded that town so that I could get captured and kill Hugo, an elite celebrity! Boy I’m lucky that he just happened to wander down and mingle with all the unwashed refugees, I mean damn this is working out well for me.

But then when she tries to STAB HUGO, ROBERT intervenes and stops her. In the struggle, her MASK is knocked off.

HERA HILMAR

Oh no! Gaze not upon my hideously deformed visage!

ROBERT SHEEHAN

Hideously deformed? What are you talking about? You just look like a normal woman with a couple of lines scribbled on her cheek.

HERA HILMAR

(feels face)

Oh right, this is the MOVIE version. I’ve got both eyes and all of my nose and everything. Awesome! Well, gotta go.

(flees)

ROBERT chases HERA through the city’s DIGESTIVE TRACT, until she escapes him by leaping out the metaphorical BUTTHOLE. Then HUGO shows up.

ROBERT SHEEHAN

Sorry Hugo, she got away. But before she did she mentioned that you murdered her mother. Weird, huh? Isn’t that a weird thing for only you and I to know, while I stand over this precarious ledge with no witnesses-

(pushed out of city)

Yeah I was kinda asking for that.

EXT. WASTELAND

ROBERT and HERA are stranded in the MUD DESERT.

HERA HILMAR

Fuck you, Robert! You cost me my chance to kill Hugo! Now we’re lost in these savage wilds. Do you have any idea how much cunning, bravery and strength we’re going to need to survive out here?

ROBERT SHEEHAN

Literally none until the third act as other people keep hauling our asses out of dangerous situations for us?

HERA HILMAR

Well hopefully. Now come on, let’s get moving. I trust you have some degree of resourcefulness and won’t be a huge burden I’ll be lugging around, right?

ROBERT SHEEHAN

Well, I do have the ability to-

(falls down)

OOPS

(gets hand stuck in beehive)

ARGH OW OW OW

(tongue gets frozen to lamppost)

NNNNGH

HERA HILMAR

(disentangling him with a sigh)

Wonderful. You’re lucky the ‘shedding my hardened outer shell and growing to like you’ phase of my character development is starting to happen right away and for no good reason.

ROBERT SHEEHAN

In my defense, I will get to use my pilot skills later on. Years ago I started to train as a pilot, but then my parents died so I couldn’t be a pilot.

(pause)

The movie never explains the link between those two facts. Just roll with it.

INT. HUGO’S HOUSE

Meanwhile, back on the London tank...

LEILA GEORGE

Say Dad, who was that crazy woman who tried to kill you?

HUGO WEAVING

Some random terrorist I suppose. I don’t even know who Hera Hilmar is! Er, in fact I don’t even know the name Hera Hilmar. OR the name of her mother Pandora. Who even said she had a mother??? YOU’RE acting suspicious! Oh yeah, and don’t look at those evil attack plans I’ve left lying around the house. WHAT superweapon? Goodbye!

(leaves)

LEILA GEORGE

Something tells me he’s not being one hundred percent honest with me.

She goes and finds worker RONAN - RAFTERY? Not RAFERTY? That doesn’t look right but whatever.

LEILA GEORGE

You there! You secretly witnessed Robert falling out of the city. What happened?

RONAN RAFTERY

I can’t tell you that! Do you have any idea how colossally fucked I would be if I got caught spilling the secrets of oh you’ve drawn it out of me. Your dad pushed Robert.

LEILA GEORGE

That bastard! And I bet the top-secret machine he’s building is sinister too. Let’s take a secret passageway to check it out, it’s overrrrr...

INT. ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL

HUGO visits SARAH PEIRCE, who is building an APOCALYPSE RAY for him.

HUGO WEAVING

Hey, I found another functional five-hundred-year-old fusion cell. Amazing how many small towns have these impossibly rare and valuable things lying around in their garbage piles, huh? Now we only need to stumble across like six more of these things by sheer luck and we can finish the superweapon!

SARAH PEIRCE

It’s a tall order. Man, if only reverse engineering were a thing.

HUGO WEAVING

In other news, there’s a psychotic sorta-scarred lady out to murder me. Anything we can do to stop her?

SARAH PEIRCE

That depends. Would it be useful if we happened to have just arrested an unstoppable zombie cyborg whose entire purpose in life is to hunt down and kill Hera Hilmar specifically?

HUGO WEAVING

...Yes. I’d say that would be kind of laughably convenient, in fact.

They go to OCEAN PRISON and briefly consider just releasing STEPHEN LANGBOT, but then remember that they’re BAD GUYS and go the extra mile of BLOWING UP THE ENTIRE PRISON and letting all the other prisoners DROWN for SERIOUSLY NO REASON WHATSOEVER. Eight seconds later, LANGBOT emerges at the BEACH.

STEPHEN LANGBOT

Wow, it sure didn’t take me long to walk through five hundred meters of seawater and reach the shore! I should be able to catch up with Hera in no time with that kind of speed.

(puts one foot in front of the other)

(pause)

(puts one foot in front of the other)

(pause)

(puts one foot in front of the other)

Wait, then how the fuck did I

EXT. WASTELAND

ROBERT and HERA are plodding around the mudscape when ROBERT spots some small TOWNWAGONS.

ROBERT SHEEHAN

Oh look, strangers! If there’s anything I’ve learned living my whole life in a vicious dog-eat-dog post-apocalypse, it’s that any random marauder you meet is bound to be friendly. YOOHOO, OVER HEEERE!

But then the towns start shooting HARPOONS at them!

HERA HILMAR

Robert, you fuckwit! I sure hope you were right about our getting our asses saved...

At that moment some CREEPY PIRATE PEOPLE save their asses!

CREEPY PIRATE PEOPLE

Creepy? Us? Pish posh! Never mind our grotesque Terry Gilliam character makeup, we’re perfectly nice. Now why don’t you drink some mystery liquid then go have a sleep in a tiny cell-like room, mkay?

HERA HILMAR

My cynical untrusting character sees no problem with this.

HERA and ROBERT go sleep in the BARE INESCAPABLE ROOM, but then realize they’re being taken to a SLAVER TOWN!

ROBERT SHEEHAN

Oh no! Fortunately half the floor of this room comes away if you undo one screw, because these guys fucking suck at prison cells. Come on, let’s jump!

HERA HILMAR

But I can’t! I’m too scared to jump out the bottom of a moving town, even to save my life!

ROBERT SHEEHAN

That was basically the first thing you did in this entire movie.

Failing to ESCAPE, they are taken to be sold at an auction. Then a woman named JIHAE shows up.

AUCTIONEER

If it isn’t the notorious terrorist, Jihae! Are you here to try to buy these prisoners?

JIHAE

That’s right. I bid twenty shotgun pellets to your face.

(kills auctioneer)

She grabs HERA and ROBERT and they run for it.

JIHAE

I’m with the resistance, Hera! Because this is a YA property so of course there’s a resistance. We need your help!

HERA HILMAR

So you came to get me... from a place I’ve been for two minutes, where not even I knew I was coming? There is literally no conceivable way you could have found me.

STEPHEN LANGBOT

(showing up)

Same here! Not even asking how I managed to catch up to you using my maximum walking speed of one tenth of a mile per hour. Now HERE I COME TO KILL YOU!

(footstep)

I’M...

(footstep)

GONNA...

(footstep)

GET...

Before he can finish his sentence, HERA, ROBERT and JIHAE have escaped on JIHAE’S HOVERSHIP. Because sure, this post-apocalyptic civilization which regards toasters as awe-inspiring ancient tech has HOVERSHIPS.

INT. ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL

LEILA GEORGE

...here!

RONAN RAFTERY

Wait, why is the movie acting like this scene is happening within minutes of our last one? About forty hours have passed in the other plotlines.

LEILA GEORGE

I guess on the way to show you this hidden passage, we must have decided to stop off and watch the director’s cut of Dances With Wolves like eight or nine times.

They sneak into the CATHEDRAL and find out about the whole SUPERWEAPON THING.

LEILA GEORGE

Oh no! Dad wants to blow up the peaceful non-vehicle cities in the east and take all their stuff! What are we going to do to stop him?

RONAN RAFTERY

Nothing. We’re just going to sit on our asses and do not a damn thing with this important information.

LEILA GEORGE

Wait, what? But in the book we concocted a daring plan-

RONAN RAFTERY

And how did that work out for us?

LEILA GEORGE

Oh. We both died horribly. Yeah, fuck that, I’m out.

RONAN RAFTERY

I’m COMPLETELY out. Just forget I was ever here.

(vanishes from rest of movie)

EXT. SKY CITY

JIHAE takes HERA and ROBERT to REBELLION HEADQUARTERS in a floating city.

JIHAE

Hera, you have to help us stop Hugo from finishing his MEDUSA. When he killed your mother and chopped up your face, it was because she’d found the missing MacGuffin box that could make it work, and he stole it from her. We think you might know where the magic MEDUSA-killing USB stick is.

HERA HILMAR

Wait, hang on. In the flashback to my mother’s death, she recognized the MacGuffin box about six seconds before having a sword shoved through her. So how the fuck would you guys know about any of this?

JIHAE

Ummmmm

HERA HILMAR

And if you HAVE known Hugo was building a superweapon for the past ten years, what the fuck have you been doing? In all that time your gang of badass hovership pirates couldn’t whack Hugo? I nearly managed that by myself, and I’m just some angry lady with a kitchen knife!

ROBERT SHEEHAN

Sorry, sorry, just wanted to check: so the rebels want the female protagonist to locate a MacGuffin that her mother is supposed to have left her. Are you SURE this isn’t Mortal Instruments? Because that exact thing happened in Mortal Instruments.

Suddenly LANGBOT appears out of nowhere again, destroying the CITY.

STEPHEN LANGBOT

That’s right, this time I was literally able to track you across THIN AIR! Ha ha, I can be such a lazy half-assed plot device sometimes.

ROBERT attacks him but naturally fails with all his faily powers of failure. Then LANGBOT goes to kill him.

HERA HILMAR

NOOO, DON’T KILL MY BELOVED ROBERT!!

STEPHEN LANGBOT

Wh-what? You’ve fallen in love with this dweeby, annoying pile of suck?

ERR-OR

ERR-OR

DOES NOT COMPUTE

(brain suffers catastrophic failure)

uuurrrkk... oh well here’s the usb stick conveniently go save the world or whateverrrr

(dies)

INT. ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL

As LONDON approaches the big WALL that separates the WASTELANDS from the GREEN PLACE, HUGO prepares to fire the MEDUSA.

HUGO WEAVING

Mwa ha ha, that random bad guy from earlier finally told me where to find Robert’s pile of evil tech, so now the MEDUSA is complete! Thank fuck, I was navigating our way to this wall while we were still missing about a quarter of the superweapon, we nearly wound up just sitting here looking like total fuckwits.

They fire the WEAPON and blow up about a third of the WALL.

HUGO WEAVING

THERE IT IS! The horrifying futuristic weapon which ended all of civilization in sixty minutes!

(pause)

...Which causes like a half-a-kiloton explosion. Seriously, there was WWII siege artillery that could have done that kind of damage. What a letdown. Oh well, keep firing I guess.

But then HERA and JIHAE burst in, having wisely left ROBERT to mind the hovership.

JIHAE

Not so fast, Hugo! After ten years of effort you may have finished your superweapon, but after ten years of unrelated effort we’ve found a way to destroy it! This all happened at the EXACT same time, what a colossal fucking contrivance!

HUGO fights JIHAE. Meanwhile, as the MEDUSA is preparing to do the no-seriously-this-time-it-counts shot at the WALL, HERA goes and plugs in the MAGIC USB STICK.

HERA HILMAR

Hooray, we win! Right?

JIHAE

(swordfighting)

Nope that was too easy, how about instead of just working the USB tells you a code you have to type in!

HERA HILMAR

(sighs)

Fine, I guess as bullshit padding goes it’s not too tedious...

JIHAE

And after you press each number you have to wait like ten seconds while the computer thinks reeeaaaal hard, then finally turns on a green light to say ‘yep, you just pressed a correct digit alright’.

HERA HILMAR

UUUUGGGGHHHHH.

(presses button)

(drums fingers)

(light goes bing)

Yes, they did indeed instal on this machine lights whose sole purpose was to measure your progress in BREAKING THE MACHINE FOREVER. This is so stupid and lame.

Finally just as the MEDUSA is about to FIRE, it just sort of quietly and anticlimactically SHUTS DOWN.

HUGO WEAVING

Damn you, Hera! I’ll kill you now, even though I... am your FATHER!

ROBERT SHEEHAN

(flying past)

Seriously guys, we did all this in Mortal Instruments. Are you just banking on everybody having forgotten that movie? ...Because that’s a pretty solid strategy now that I think of it.

HERA HILMAR

Holy crap, Hugo’s my dad?! Well then, fuck my ten-year quest for vengeance; I’m gonna prove that I’m not as twisted and cruel as him, by just walking away and letting go of my insane wrath. How’s THAT for a satisfying piece of character-

ROBERT SHEEHAN

(blowing up Hugo with a missile)

Sorry, what were you saying?

HERA HILMAR

...Never mind.

LEILA GEORGE

(high-fiving everyone)

Woot, unlike the end of the book, I’m alive! Uh oh, how are we going to deal with the fact that Hera’s half-sister is alive and well when it comes time to adapt the other books?

HERA HILMAR

Oh fuck, you’re right! In fact we changed so many important things that ANY sequel is going to be screwed up! QUICK EVERYBODY, SEQUEL-PREVENTION PROTOCOLS!

The movie QUIETLY TANKS and then SLIPS OUT OF EXISTENCE.

HERA HILMAR

Phew, close one!

END.

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