Top 10 Unlikely Alliances In Film

These are unlikely and sometimes begrudging alliances. These characters might not always like one another, but for reasons that make sense perhaps only to them, they have to align for a common good. Here are the top ten unlikely alliances in film.

10. Ghost (Zucker, 1990)

Top 10 Unlikely Alliances In FilmPatrick Swayze plays Sam Wheat, who was killed by his best friend and colleague over money, of course. Sam is in limbo. He can’t go to heaven yet but he is also not heading to hell. He has a purpose on Earth with his remaining time. Even though he is dead, he has to do what he can to protect his fiance, Molly, played by Demi Moore.

Hell is represented here by angry, black entities that look like rotten diseased ghosts from Pac-man. When someone of questionable character dies, they are met by these demons from hell and they are dragged, kicking, screaming and crying, to hell. When Sam finally figures out the mystery and he is able to protect Molly from his best friend Carl, Sam ends up watching Carl die. This could go very wrong as Carl could now become more powerful as a dead entity than he is as a living person. But the ghostly and ghastly ghouls grab Carl and drag him to hell, leaving Sam and Molly to not necessarily live happily ever after, but some version of it.

9. Extreme Prejudice (Hill, 1987)

Top 10 Unlikely Alliances In FilmNick Nolte plays Jack Benteen, a Texas Ranger in a Mexican border town. His childhood best friend is Cash Bailey (Powers Booth) and he is the biggest drug smuggler in his neck of the woods. Benteen is trying to put an end to his reign. To complicate matters, a government squad of supposed dead soldiers comes into town and are also on Bailey’s trail. Their job is to wipe out Bailey and anyone else who gets in the way, including the local law enforcement.

Benteen imprisons a couple of the soldiers and while in prison, Buck (William Forsythe) begins to question the motives of his commanding officer, Major Paul Hackett (Michael Ironside). Upon getting released from prison, Buck learns that Hackett has ordered the termination of Benteen. He not only questions this decision like the rest of his squad, he does something about it, warning Benteen of Hackett’s motives. These two men start out as adversaries but become allies once the shooting starts.

8. Return Of The Jedi (Marquand, 1983)

Top 10 Unlikely Alliances In FilmThe Ewoks pretty much save the day for the Rebel Alliance. When they land on Endor, they quickly realize that they might be outnumbered. Fortunately for them, Leia meets up with Wicket and he takes her back to the camp.

This helps later in the film when Luke, Han and Chewy are captured by the Ewoks and are going to be that evening’s dinner. With the help of Leia and C-3PO, the Ewoks are convinced to not only let the trio go but to also help them overthrow the Empire.

7. Internship (Levy, 2013)

Top 10 Unlikely Alliances In FilmHere’s a film that was all but ignored when it came out in the summer of 2013. And that’s unfortunate because it’s a very good film. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play salesman that are a decade past their prime. They somehow manage to get an internship with Google but they know nothing about technology. To become employees of the giant search engine, they and their team have to beat out five other teams and garner the most new business for the company.

There is a love-hate relationship with Mr. Chetty, the headmaster of their department. Chetty is played by Aasif Mandvi and he really doesn’t care for Billy McMahon and Nick Campbell. He thinks they are bad for business and he gives them a hard time all throughout the film. However at the end, when there is a final deciding vote that is needed to allow Campbell and McMahon and their team to submit their sales as bit past the deadline, Chetty not only allows this but it is also revealed that it was his deciding vote that allowed the two of them into the internship to begin with. He goes on to explain that he saw hard work and determination in them and decided to give them a chance….a decision that paid off handsomely.

6. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Yates, 2011)

Top 10 Unlikely Alliances In FilmProfessor Severus Snape (the late Alan Rickman) doesn’t like Harry Potter, or so it seems. For eight films he harasses him, belittles him and basically treats him like a criminal. But in the final film it is discovered that Snape actually did all of this because he truly cared about Harry and he had to make it appear that he had disdain for him. This would enable him to protect Harry from the forces of evil that were trying to kill him. Snape ends up giving his life trying to protect Harry but he dies heroically at the hands of Voldemort, the baddest wizard of them all.

5. Rocky III (Stallone, 1983)

Top 10 Unlikely Alliances In FilmWhen Rocky is destroyed by Clubber Lang (Mr. T), he has lost all will to fight. He feels sorry for himself as Mickey told him that a lot of his title fights were easy fights, set ups of sorts to keep Rocky on top. With Mickey dead and Clubber the champ, Rocky is all but beaten in every facet of life. And then Apollo (Carl Weathers) meets him one night at the gym. He offers to train Rocky and help get him back on top. Apollo is a little too old to get back in the ring himself, but he can mentor Rocky so that they can get the title back together. Rocky learns things he never knew and of course wins the title back because of Apollo’s training. Once bitter opponents, now best friends, Rocky and Apollo accomplished their goal by putting aside their differences.

4. Schindler’s List (Spielberg, 1993)

Schindler's List, Spielberg, FilmSchindler’s List is based on a true story. We all know of the holocaust and how six million Jews were exterminated at the hands of Hitler and the Nazis. Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a German, did everything in his power to save as many Jews as he could during the war. He employed up to 1200 Jews in his ammunition’s plant. He was able to convince the Nazis that they were making weapons in this plant and eventually these weapons would be used by the Germans in the war. Schindler ended up saving more than 1200 Jews from death. Unlike others on this list, Oskar Schindler is a real-life hero.

3. Jurassic World (Trevorrow, 2015)

Jurassic World review - Top 10 FilmsFor many, including editor Dan Stephens, Jurassic World just didn’t work. In fact, I don’t think he liked the film in the slightest. For this Dan (me!), Jurassic World was one of the best films of 2015. One of the reasons it rates so high is the scene that starts with “need more teeth”. The scene has our heroes being attacked by the baddest and meanest alpha dinosaur that has ever been created. His name is Indominous Rex. He is much bigger than the T-Rex and he is also more vicious and seemingly engineered to be smarter and faster as well.

Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt) have the aid of three velociraptors but it is only a matter of time before their luck runs out. Cue one of the most heart stopping scenes from 2015. Claire runs to the T-rex enclosure and uses her flair to get the T-Rex out of his enclosure. Claire leads the T-Rex to battle but first she has to run from him, in high heels and all, and when she gets him face to face with the I-Rex, all hell breaks loose. It’s one of the most fun scenes I’ve personally witnessed in any film. When the raptors and the T-Rex finally defeat the I-rex (with the help of another water dinosaur), they just look at one another and give some kind of acknowledgment to one another before going their separate ways.

2. Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994)

Pulp-Fiction_butch_marcellusButch, as played by Bruce Willis, is told by Marcellus Wallace that he is to purposely lose a fight so that Wallace can bet on him to lose and win big money in the process. Butch has other ideas. By double crossing Wallace, Butch has now become a wanted man. When Marcellus randomly sees him in the street, it looks like one of them is going to die right there. A chase ensues and unfortunately for both men they end up at Maynard’s shop. Maynard likes to rape men and with the help of his accomplice, Zed, they tie Butch and Marcellus up.

Marcellus and Butch still hate each other and mere moments ago wanted to kill each other. But things soon change as Marcellus is taken into the back room and he is raped by Zed while Maynard and a gimp in a leather mask watches. Butch manages to free himself while Marcellus is in the other room. Butch can run away without a problem, leaving his enemy to be raped by three men. But instead he grabs a samurai sword and goes back into the room and kills the gimp and Maynard. When Zed sees him he panics and Marcellus grabs a shotgun and blows his nuts off. Butch and Wallace stand side by side and suddenly their differences don’t mean anything anymore. Marcellus says that they are cool but Butch must leave town. Butch agrees, leaving Zed to await Marcellus getting medieval on his ass.

1. The Prophecy (Widen, 1995)

Top 10 Unlikely Alliances In FilmChristopher Walken plays Gabriel, the archangel. He is jealous of human beings because God has chosen to love them more than he does his angels. Gabriel has discovered the most evil soul on Earth and if he can get that soul as it lays in limbo, he can use that soul to basically create another hell. This would enable all the souls that are limbo, the ones that have not gone to heaven or hell, to go to this new hell. Somehow in Gabriel’s thought process, this would then allow God to love Gabriel and his minions more than he does humans. There’s one problem, Simon (Eric Stoltz), a good angel, has learned of Gabriel’s plan and he manages to hide the soul in a little girl before Gabriel can take possession of it. But Gabriel is determined to find it. This is when Lucifer steps in.

Lucifer is played by Viggo Mortensen in what might be the greatest five minutes of screen time in film history. He seductively sneers and slithers his syllables into our cerebellum. He knows that if Gabriel is successful, he will essentially create a second hell. And while Lucifer hates humans, he has no choice but to help them against Gabriel. When he shows up to stop Gabriel, he tells him that his quest is one of arrogance and that makes it evil. “Time to come home Gabriel”, Satan sneers at him, before ripping open Gabriel’s chest and eating his heart. Lucifer brings Gabriel back to hell, allowing the human race to remain God’s favourite and in the process keeps one heaven and one hell.

Written & Compiled by Dan Grant

What have we missed? Name your fave unlikely alliances in film…

Read more from Dan Grant:
Top 10 Films About The Oppressed Taking Their Revenge
Top 10 Embarrassingly Cringeworthy Moments In Film
Top 10 Supporting Actors Who Always Bring Something Special To A Movie

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About the Author
Dan Grant is an author and horror film fan from Canada. His first novel Terrified and Defenseless is now available for e-download from Amazon. Follow Dan on Twitter @baumer72.

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  1. Avatar
    Callum Reply

    Love that scene in Pulp Fiction. It’s so STRANGE when you start to think about what actually happens. Definitely an “unlikely alliance”.

    • Avatar
      Rory Reply

      “I’m gonna call a couple of hard, pipe-hittin’ n*******, who’ll go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. You hear me talkin’, hillbilly boy? I ain’t through with you by a damn sight. I’m gonna get medieval on your ass!”

  2. Avatar
    Rory Reply

    Cool topic Dan G!

    My suggestion: Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    Yes, 48 Hours is certainly a good one as well.

  4. Avatar
    Callum Reply

    Yeah, 48 Hours is good. Eddie Murphy had other unlikely partnerships in films like Beverly Hills Cop and particularly Trading Places (there couldn’t be a more unlikely alliance than the one spawned in that film).

    • Avatar
      Dan Reply

      I think you’ll find Eddie Murphy is an ideal candidate for this “type” of film; certainly the idea of unlikely common goals bringing disparate characters together. It was a part of his act in the early days of stand-up – the battle for recognition and distinction in a “white man’s” world as initially led by the great Richard Pryor. Murphy makes a point of it in Beverly Hills Cop, for sure, but it’s very much on the agenda in Trading Places as both class and race become important plot points. The unlikely alliance therefore comes from the elimination of stereotype – it’s a wonderful part of Murphy’#s early work. It’s a shame his filmography has degenerated into silliness and ego-massaging with little or no subtext.

      • Avatar
        Rory Reply

        Good points.

        Just looking at his films over the years, it’s striking how far he has fallen from grace since his career high points in the 80s and early 1990s.

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    Rory Reply

    Another suggestion:

    Human and Predator in Alien Versus Predator.

    • Avatar
      Dan Reply

      That one crossed my mind. Still, that film rather falls flat for me when the “final girl” and the Predator start working together. In Predator and Predator 2, these battled-scarred killers were frightening creatures with an unsettling intelligence and the ability to sneak up on you unseen and largely unheard. Come the end of Alien v Predator I was left thinking: “they’re actually okay, aren’t they”.

      That said, there’s a similarly unlikely alliance in Predators which I think works a bit better. Probably because it’s a better film and enjoys the presence of Adrien Brody.

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    Gregory Kinley Reply

    There’s a few buddy movies that spring to mind as unlikely alliances:

    A salesman and his unwanted travel companion in Planes, Trains and Automobiles

    A bounty hunter and his target in Midnight Run

    Two prisoners in civil rights era America – one white, one black – in The Defiant Ones

    A cop and an unwitting member of the public in Die Hard with a Vengeance

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      Dan Reply

      Great pick on The Defiant Ones. A seminal classic and a film that fits so snugly into this theme. At a time of civil unrest The Defiant Ones was a timely yet courageous attempt at addressing issues that America was only just getting ready to accept were a reality. Variety magazine’s review at the time makes the point beautifully: “The theme of The Defiant Ones is that what keeps men apart is their lack of knowledge of one another. With that knowledge comes respect, and with respect comradeship and even love.”

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    Dan Reply

    Great top 10 Dan and a terrific idea. I, too, love that sequence in Pulp Fiction where two enemies turn the tables on Zed and his cronies.

    Schindler’s List is an interesting one, a film that displays the good in people – and the courage – amidst truly horrible times. The film gets criticised for its depiction of the holocaust because of Spielberg’s manichean vision – indeed, I’m not sure this immensely talented director was the right man to make a holocaust movie – but you can’t deny the film has moments of real heart-wrenching human courage and defiance. It’s just too simplistic for a subject with the gravitas and terrible legacy of 1930s/1940s Germany. Kubrick apparently said something along the lines of: “Think Schindler’s List is about the Holocaust? The Holocaust is about six million people who get killed. Schindler’s List is about 600 who don’t.”

    Rocky III is another pick I like here. That franchise – from films one to 4 and then Rocky Balboa and Creed – has produced some fine films.

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    CineGirl Reply

    Some good and some not-so good films on display here. Internship – really!? Aside from it being a two-hour long advert for Google it was charmless, humourless and eye-gouging in its self-serving approach. I needed a shower after watching it! 😉

    But great picks on Pulp Fiction, Rocky 3 and I like the inclusion of Ghost. I initially thought the unlikely alliance would be between Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg but you’re right, a ghost and his would-be widow is far more interesting.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    so many great comments here and some really good picks as well. Unfortunately I am working a lot right now and I am not at a computer to respond properly. But yes the eighties buddy movie especially something like Trading Places or 48 hours are great pics. The defiant ones Planes Trains and Automobiles also a really interesting. When I get to a computer I will definitely break this down a little bit more. And once again terrific job on the article Dan.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    I personally (as mentioned in my initial piece) liked Internship immensely. but I realized I am in the minority on that opinion. I found it to be very Charming and had a terrific message and I’m a huge sucker for Josh Gad who had a small but very pivotal role in the movie.

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    ruth Reply

    Great idea for a list! I haven’t seen the #1 pick, but w/ Walken and Viggo as Lucifer? Wow I gotta see that pronto!

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    Dan Grant Reply

    The Prophecy is just all kinds of awesome. There are 5 Prophecy’s. The other four went straight to HV and Walken is only in three but man oh man, the first one is just terrific

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    Martin G Reply

    Great idea for a top 10.

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    The film that comes to mind for me is Tommy Boy. The pairing of Farley and Spade is pure madcap! Given their characters are complete opposites and they’re both comedians. Spade’s sarcasm hits hard but is lovable.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    Thanks Martin, much appreciated.

    And Neal, always good of you to chime in. That’s another good one. They are kind of like the Laurel and Hardy of the 90’s.

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