Written by Robert Butler Jr. | Review by Moumita Deb
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n an era where breaking molds is difficult, more precisely in the blockbuster industry with its constant pressure to deliver massive profits, the script of Alliance breaks away miraculously by setting a milestone in the powerful portrayal of the reserved anti-hero, pitted against the gangster bad boy.
Alliance courageously drifts away from the convention of most contemporary movies that make a concerted effort to appeal to the accepted moral stature of the mainstream masses. This movie poses one of the most notable challenges to film conventions – the script’s essentially dark tone, grim story, bloody violence, and outdoor location-photography sets it apart from the air-brushed, clean-cut, sanitized look and feel of contemporary mainstream Hollywood flicks. Even compared to similarly dark crime dramas of old trendsetters, Alliance feels dirtier. Its violent, pessimistic attitude is penetrating every frame and bullet-tinged assassination.
Alliance’s tone and narrative follow the descent of characters into the hardcore criminal underworld and the violent conclusions that such gangster lifestyles lead to. The film features a blank-slate protagonist, the eponymous character whose presence heightens the grimness of the tone and ambiance throughout.
The script harmoniously blends standard gangster fare involving back-stabbings with hit jobs, and mildly unpredictable plot-twists; as far as gangster operas go, Alliance’s crime story is rather formulaic and follows a number of the genre’s key conventions, but by comparison to its mother film industry and with respect to its dank, dark, bloody aesthetic, it stands out from the rest of the film landscape like a sore thumb. Presumably and ironically from a general assumption the film might lack the jaw-dropping camerawork and kickass.
As it stands compared to the rest of gangster genre worldwide, Alliance’s narrative ranks somewhere above average. The story is dramatic enough and its ending is suitably grim; the tale as a whole feel well-paced for a nearly ‘one hour’ film, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. The large cast contains a wide range of likable or memorable characters as well as forgettable ones. The lead feels purposefully generic to act as a placeholder for the wayward, traveling soul who can only find social acceptance and financial security through criminal means. It’s an appropriate analogy given the narrative’s rich symbolism, but the character-driven aspects of the story suffer somewhat as a result. As a straightforward crime drama unto itself, it is competent enough to sustain quality storytelling.
The movie concludes in appropriately bloody fashion, but the disorganized execution of its final sequence ruins the climactic tension. The fact that this otherwise promising romance remains so abbreviated in the film’s closing shots is more of a let-down than a tragic punch to the gut that Butler clearly wanted it to be. To that end, the protagonist’s character may function well enough as a blank-slate, and monotoned performance may be forgivable, but the film’s shoehorned criminal actions at times reach a height of nonsense.
To conclude, Alliance most unconventionally impresses despite being rather cliched when viewed from a broader, global context. I give the film credit for branching out on its own (relative to its native film stable), taking the darker, moodier route from which most flicks steer clear. In comparison to other intricate terrorist love-plots, I argue that this film succeeds enough on its own merits as an artistically worthwhile project. It’s an entertaining ride that forgoes the tongue-in-cheek attitude of so many similar movies and takes itself seriously without falling apart.
Butler’s distinctive’ noir-gangster aesthetic works well with the narrative’s mood and criminal action. However, Alliance’s narrative rarely wows, given how much of its content has been either done to death or executed far better in countless other industries. The story stumbles in its final moments, with its romantic subplot ultimately being left on the cutting-room floor.
Moumita is a Kolkata based independent filmmaker and film critic. She holds a post- graduation degree in English literature from Jadavpur University. Reading novels of a wide range of authors of all genres from classic to contemporary has always been Moumita’s passion and calling. She also takes a strong liking in playing the Spanish guitar & has participated in quite a few concerts. Moumita has done her certification course in Cinematography, Video Editing and Filmmaking.