Jean-Francois Virey is the writer of the screenplay "Striker: An American Iliad", a screen version of A. A. Attanasio and former outlaw biker Robert S. Henderson's novel Silent. A professor of American history and English, and the author of two screenplays, Jean-Francois Virey was born in 1967.

"My main interest in life is finding out the truth about fundamental issues. I was successively influenced by stoicism, neurophysiological determinism, Sri Aurobindo's integral yoga, secular humanism, extropianism and Objectivism, all of which I now reject..."

For your reading pleasure, available only on - the first scene of Jean-Francois Virey's "Striker: An American Iliad":

An American Iliad

By Jean-François Virey.
Based on the novel « Silent »
by A.A.Attanasio
and Robert S. Henderson

6 Quai des Houillères
59500 Douai
Tel :

Ó 2000 All rights reserved by / Tous droits réservés par Jean-François Virey



Located in the outskirts of Boston, the Depot consists of several rows of warehouses hemmed in by a wire fence.

A car drives in and parks outside the gate on the deserted parking lot. A man (PATRICK ROCCIO) gets out, in his mid-twenties, dressed in a business suit, with a youthful air of self-confidence and enthusiasm on his beautiful face.

He walks to a lit guards’ house and shakes the hand of the guard sitting behind the counter.


The guard barely looks at him, intently watching THE SIMPSONS on a small, almost mute black and white TV set, surrounded by several surveillance screens.

(Not lifting his eyes from the screen)
Homer’s on. Wanna watch ?

Nah. I prefer doing it.

Both smile at the joke. Roccio leans over the counter to take a lamp and a belt with a well-furnished key-ring and a walkie-talkie. As he turns around to exit the guard’s house, the guard picks up a bag from the floor.

Oh ! Thresher left this for you.

Roccio opens the bag and draws out a bulletproof plastron – definitely state-of-the-art police equipment.


Taking off his vest, he puts the plastron on.

You've gotta love the woman.

He puts his vest back on over the plastron and exits the guard’s room with his keys and lamp.


Lighting a cigarette, Roccio walks in the middle of the central alley, leisurely, listening to the distant bustle of the city, watching a helicopter fly over the harbour.

Suddenly, he hears the sound of broken glass coming from one of the warehouses. He picks up the walkie-talkie.

I heard some noise in Four. I’m going in.

(in no hurry to answer)
Yeah. Whatever.

Roccio smiles, probably expecting to find some rat. He circles the warehouse, and notices that one of the windows is slightly ajar, about four meters above the ground. Switching off his lamp and drawing his gun, he enters the warehouse silently by a man-sized door at the rear end.


Roccio hears men whispering and the sound of metal grating on metal. As he walks to the end of one of the alleys, he sees two figures busy picking the lock on a reinforced cupboard. The two men are bikers, wearing ski-masks.

Suddenly, Roccio switches on the lamp in the bikers’ direction. They freeze fatalistically.

Stay calm. I have a gun pointed at you, but I’m not gonna use it so long as you play along. Put your hands behind your necks.

The bikers do as he says.

All right. Now turn your backs to me.

As they turn round, Roccio sees the patch on Bassman’s back. Its logo is a skull wearing a blue bandana and a large golden earring, with fiery eyes staring menacingly. The words « Street Gypsies, M.C. » are sown in blood-red letters beneath it.

Now what do we have here ? Street Gypsies ! I’m not sure Mr. Hellas will approve.

He puts the lamp down on one of the shelves so as to keep the Gypsies within the light and himself in the shadows. He draws his walkie-talkie.

I’m ordering a pizza. You want something ?

As he switches on the walkie-talkie, he hears a mewing behind him : someone has been watching too many Bruce Lee movies. He turns around rapidly, dropping the walkie-talkie on the floor and breaking it. But in the switch from light to dark he can’t see anything and he barely has time to get one random shot before the violent impact of a metal nunchuck cracks open his skull and he falls dead to the floor.

Barefoot and dressed in a sleeveless shirt, Bobby « MAD DOG » Gomes is frozen in a Bruce Lee position, his muscles taut, with the eyes of a fanatic warrior. This is no tongue-in-cheek impersonation.

The two bikers walk to the corpse, taking off their ski masks. One of them, BASSMAN, is a 6’4’’ Jamaican with pink and purple dreadlocks. The other, a boy of 21, wearing the same long, jet-black hair as Mad Dog, but with a face as beautiful as the latter’s is ugly, and a Wild Bill moustache, is STRIKER. He looks at the corpse, aghast, and swallows two pills from a pillbox.

Three beers.

He takes the key ring from Roccio’s belt and goes back to the cupboard, trying the smaller keys.

Getting out of his trance, Mad Dog puts the nunchucks in the back of his trousers and kneels down, opening Roccio’s vest to admire his plastron.

Nice armour, soldier. You’re gonna be very secure in this.

He takes it off from Roccio’s body, admiring it with an almost religious feeling, and tries it on.

(not looking at Striker)
Get his ID, Striker.

His face very pale, Striker puts his hand in Roccio’s interior vest- pocket, searching for Roccio’s wallet. He finds it and opens it.

Roccio… Patrick. Patrick Roccio.

Oh boy.

What ?

No wonder the guy’s got premium hardware. He’s Thresher’s beau.

Who’s Thresher ?

Bassman returns to his keys and finally finds one that fits. As he opens the cupboard, the other two draw near.

(handing out two bags to Striker)
The squeeze who should have her name on these pills. Ex-military. She’s with the Hellas Brothers.

Isn’t. They had a fall-out over spoils last month.

Maybe so. But as soon as she finds out one of us Gypsies did that, we’re all history – whether the Hellases are on her side or not.

As they talk, they fill their jackets with transparent plastic bags containing hundreds of small dilaudid (morphin) pills.

(looking around)
Let her come.

Their jackets crammed with the drugs, the Gypsies suddenly freeze. The roar of several approaching cars can be heard in the distance. They look at each other rapidly and dash towards the door. Not knowing what to do with the wallet, Striker drops it in a box on one of the shelves and follows the other two.


Three cars screech to a halt on the asphalt of the parking area. The guard rushes out of the house to meet several men carrying semi-automatic weapons.


Sneaking out of the Depot by an opening in the wire fence, Mad Dog, Bassman and Striker run to their motorbikes over a small hill.


As four of the men enter the inner area via the guard’s house, three others run around the perimeter to have it surrounded.


The bikers kick-start their Harleys and dash off.


The armed men hear the roar of the engines of the Harleys and rush toward it. As they arrive atop the hill, the motorcycles are already too far for the men to shoot or even for the patches on the bikers’ backs to be visible.

The Creator of "Striker: An American Iliad" Talks About His Work:

A fan of A. A. Attanasio’s novels since the early 1980s, when « Radix » was translated into French, I first got into touch with Al in August 1999 after reading and rereading his and Richard Henderson’s novel « Silent. »

I had just completed my first script- a Ninja Turtles movie, of all things, which I referred to as « a science-fiction movie » for fear of looking silly, though I still think it’s a great script- and thanks to a martial arts friend of my taiji professor who had worked as an extra on a few Hong Kong movies and had met Jackie Chan personally, I had managed to get it read by people at Golden Harvest. I had been told they were very interested and would summon me to Hong Kong for a press conference, and I thought I might actually have a future in the movie industry. (Since then, I have discovered that aspiring screenwriters face a slight problem : they cannot sell a script if they do not have an agent, and they cannot get an agent if they have not sold a script. And if you live in Douai, France, there is not much you can do to get out of the vicious circle, all the more so if you hate having to « sell yourself » and would rather be « discovered » through some gratuitous divine intervention, which I am still counting on.)

My readings in the art and techniques of screenwriting still fresh in my mind, I had been struck by the powerful dramatic structure of « Silent ». I could not help thinking how easily it could be turned into a great movie script- a damsel-in-distress thriller a la Brian De Palma perhaps, or better still, an urban film noir a la David Lynch.

Still wet behind the ears, I sent an e-mail to my favorite living writer and the author of what I hold to be one of the top ten science-fiction novels of all time (« Centuries »), told him of my aspirations and (retrospectively non-existent) prospects as a screenwriter, and asked him whether he would let me work on the project. Having read all of his novels, and grown up with them, I wanted most of all to see what I could do with a manageable entry in the Attanasio canon, and I was foolish enough to believe that if I could sell the script, I might give something back to Al for the hours of mind-expanding reading he had provided me with since my late teens, and for his share in shaping the person I have become. I was a Randian back then, and one duty Randians take seriously is that of saying « thank you » to the great men in whose debt they are.

With Al’s blessing, I started working on the screenplay, which turned out to be much more arduous than I initially anticipated. Even though I loved the original novel, it had one drawback for a gourmet reader like me : it forced me to read a series of books I did not care much about, dealing with such likable fellows as Hell’s Angels and mafia dons. Even Richmond Lattimore’s translation of the « Iliad », which Richard Henderson was so fond of as a biker, failed to arouse my enthusiasm, as I found the poem to be mostly a description of mass butchery, particularly concerned with the gory details of how exactly various warriors are impaled by enemy spears, the two great questions being (1) where the spear comes in and (2) where it comes out, with the reader connecting the dots to picture the internal damage. (Now you know I’m a wuss and I have no ear for poetry.)

The research did pay however, as it directed a few of the changes I made to the novel, including the name changes, which Al was rather fond of. Bobby Gomes for instance becomes « Mad Dog », an insult Achilles hurls at Hector in the Iliad, and the hero himself, Tommy Cunningham, in addition to losing a dozen years and much of his backstory, is renamed Alexander Rogan, for Alexander- Paris’s other name- the Trojan (if the name sounds familiar, it is also a reference to a teenage cult favorite of mine, « The Last Starfighter ») and, more notably, « Striker », the biker slang for « prospect » (which gave me a title, the theme of a hero on probation and the last lines of the movie.)

Having some understanding of biker codes also enabled me to add a few authentic touches, like scrapping the Hondas (which true bikers abhor) for genuine Harleys, adding to the siege atmosphere by having the Hells Angels set out to make Massachusetts a « one patch state », as they say, or using the « colours » of two dead bikers as a plot-device.

The rest of the changes I made were guided more by the themes I felt attracted to. Probably out of disgust for the kind of people bikers and mafia men generally are, and the rather depressing picture of the derelict industrial zones of Boston, I felt the need to add a silver lining to the story by involving D.A. Bella Meris (Homer’s Aphrodite) in an almost unnoticeable Randian subplot dealing with a kind of John Galt/ Bill Gates figure (imaginatively named William Galt), which provided me with an even more explosive and visual finale. Rather than being a gratuitous addition, the subplot ties in with the whole « striking » theme of the screenplay evinced by the title (« The Strike » was the working title for « Atlas Shrugged. »)

In the movie version (which is just as much a paper version as the original, but let me indulge in my delusions of grandeur for a while), the love story is also more protracted. I would rather watch a BBC adaptation of Jane Austen than a free-love movie of the seventies, so my Ellen (Attanasio’s Bobby and Homer’s Helen) does not fall in love with Silent, or realize she is in love with him, until the last scene (sorry if I spoiled the movie for you, but if it may comfort you, there isn’t a movie.)

Crucial also is a sex-change for the novel’s Achilles, Ray Fowler, who becomes mafia donette Alice Thresher (the Thresher being one of Achilles’ nicknames in the Iliad.) This enabled me to add a strong dramatic reversal in the key scene of the movie (I am much fonder of Aristotle than I am of Homer), and to motivate more strongly the mayhem of the climax.

As a contribution to this website, I give you the opening scene of the movie, which is completely original and can best be appreciated on its own. Consisting in a raid on a mafia warehouse I call « the Depot », it enables me to introduce Mad Dog’s « mimetic » personality and plants virtually all of the subplots.

This scene is the only way I could find of starting with the cinematic equivalent of the word « Wrath », which opens both the « Iliad » and « Silent ». Pat Roccio is Patroclus, Achilles’ lover, whose death at the hands of Hector is the cause of Achilles’ greatest fury in the Iliad. His plastron is also one of the devices that play an important role later on.

Less seriously, Bassman’s pink and purple dreadlocks were inspired by the Muppet Show, and I have the Guard watch « The Simpsons » on TV, which enables me to have « Homer » as my first word. Indeed, Homer is even there in the last scene, a deliberate insertion, and a way of saying hello to the guy who started it all.

I hope this first scene whets your appetite. If it does, buy the novel- the DVD is not out yet.

Jean-Francois Virey