You know a movie ain't playing when the opening scene is a guy getting tangled in barbed wire and shot by Nazis as he attempts to escape from a prison camp.
Put on your big boy pants, it's time for....
Victory is a movie mildly based on a true story (read about that here if you want to hate life and the world for a little while). The premise is that it's WWII and there's a prison camp where POWs who are a little, um, fancier (officers and whatnot) stay. It's a slightly nicer camp than others, but it's still pretty bad (this is Nazi Germany after all).
After the prisoner from the first scene gets shot, the head of Nazi propaganda stops by to check out what happened and to make sure things aren't getting too crazy. He needs to spin the situation.
The German officer, played by Max Von Sydow, (whom you may remember from every movie ever made) recognizes Michael Caine. You see, Max used to play pro soccer, before the war, and Michael was the captain of the West Ham United soccer (football) team.
Max Von Sydow, being the head propaganda officer for the Nazis, comes up with a plan. He's going to have a team of Allied prisoners/former pro soccer players have a game against a team of German soccer players at a big stadium in Paris, you know, to prove superiority and all.
Meanwhile, at this camp, there's a committee of officers/POWs who take proposals from prisoners who want to escape. The prisoners with feasible ideas get the committee's assistance, including fake passports and new clothes as well as connections in the outside world.
Sylvester Stallone plays an American who's fighting with the Canadians? I don't really know. What I do know is that he's young and spry in this movie. Anyway, he has an escape plan and, even though it's not that good, he convinces the committee to let him go for it. Now, his whole plan rests on the fact that the guards for the showers are lazy and bad at their jobs. So, while the prisoners are showering and the guards are having a smoke, he's going to sneak away.
The soccer team is getting special treatment and the lazy guards from the showers have been put on soccer team duty. This is totally f-ing up Sly's escape plan.
So, he convinces Michael Caine to let him be the "trainer" for the soccer team, because he can't play soccer fer shit, but Michael Caine understands that this is Stallone's only opportunity for escape.
As part of their agreement to play in this game, the team gets fancy new outfits and twice the food. See if you can figure out what gesture sly is giving his co-prisoners as they mock his nifty new red warm-ups.
It's a movie about prisoners playing Nazis in a game of soccer during WWII, of course there's a training montage!!!
As part of his deal with Von Sydow, Michael Caine asked to have four Eastern European players on his team. This is difficult because the game is supposed to be between POWs and a German team. To the German military, the Eastern European soldiers don't classify as prisoners of war. The players show up, straight from a labor camp, covered in lice and woefully malnourished.
It's obvious to everyone that these guys can't play soccer. But, the other players know that they either keep them on the team or let them get sent back to the labor camps. So they keep them on the team, to sit on the bench.
Throughout the movie Sylvester Stallone and Pele become friends.
Wait. What? PELE IS IN THIS MOVIE?!
YES, YES HE IS!
Pele brings so much joy to my heart. It's like a Care Bear factory in there.
So, Sly escapes and his teammates cover for him by making this dummy and carrying it with them to roll call at the POW camp.
In exchange for helping him escape, the committee is making Sly be a liaison to some people in Paris who are planning an escape for the entire soccer team during the big game. In order to look convincingly French, to match his fake passport, Sly dons a black turtleneck. I'm surprised they didn't put him in a striped shirt with a beret and a little red scarf.
At the house of the French Resistance gang, sly meets a real Frenchman in a turtleneck, and he knows his costume is perfect. Also, that lady is French. We know this because just before this scene, she was preparing a plate of cheese and baguette slices.
So the French folks have a plan, but they need Sly to go back to prison so he can be the liaison between the prisoners and the escape-helpers.
Sly is freaking about getting arrested again, but the French guy on the left assures him that he'll be put back in the same prison, to teach the other prisoners a lesson.
All sarcastic, Sly goes, "Oh, you just know everything, don't you?"
And the French guy, all serious says, "Yes, I do know everything."
And he was right, Sly gets sent back to the same prison, where he lets the team know that there's a plan for escape during the game.
But, because he escaped once, there's no way he'll be allowed to go to the game. So, Michael Caine breaks the good goalkeeper's arm so he can convince the officers that THE ONLY person who can replace their goalkeeper is Sly Stallone.
This is so sad. This kid knows that the team is going to escape at the game. And he knows that by letting Michael Caine break his arm, he's not going to the game and he's not going to escape.
Once they're in a stadium full of French citizens who hate them, the Nazis realize this was maybe not the best idea.
The Nazis are cheating (duh) they have a ref who's ignoring blatant penalties (duh).
They even break Pele's ribs! Bastards!
As he's being walked off the field, you can see how upset Pele is, do you see?
Now, the allied team is down a man because two of their players have been injured and the Eastern Europeans can't play because they're still pretty much skeletons.
But then! Miracle! The Allied team scores a Gooooooooooooool!
And the crowd goes wild!
At half time, the team gathers around the tub in the locker room, this is their escape route.
Sly explains the plan to them and they all prepare for escape!
This guy is all, Come on! We don't have much time!
Everyone jumps into the tunnel, but as soon as they're down the ladder, the team stops and says,
"We don't want to go! We can win this!"
They collectively realize that if they leave, they're abandoning all those fans. Plus, having scored a goal right before halftime, they're all pumped up and inspired.
The thing is, Sylvester Stallone really wants to escape. But, if he goes, the team can't go on the field without a goalie, the Nazis will know something is up. So it's either they all escape or they all finish the game. Finally, Pele looks at Sly and says, "If we run now, we lose more than a game."
So they decide to play!
And this guy, who organized the escape is all, "The fuck?"
When he sees the team come out on the field.
So they play, and they score! and then they score again!
The game is 3 to 4.
And the crowd is flipping out, they're so excited!
And then there's a montage of both teams being awesome. Well, not both being awesome. There's a montage of the Allied team being awesome and the Nazis cheating (duh).
And then the Allied team scores again! But the crooked ref calls offsides and the goal is taken away.
Pele gets back in the game!
And he scores a goal!
And the game is tied!
And the fans start cheering, "VICTOIRE! VICTOIRE!"
(Because they're in Paris)
Then, in the last seconds of the game, the ref calls a foul, which will result in a penalty kick. Since Sly Stallone is the goalie, it's pretty much a guaranteed goal for the Nazis.
Or is it?! Sly stops the ball!
And the fans go nuts!
They pull the guns from the hands of Nazi guards, they break down the fence, they rush the field!
The fans surround the players and disguise them in the jackets off their own backs so they'll blend in with the mass of people charging the field!
Max Von Sydow's character sees that they're all escaping, but he doesn't do anything to stop them. I think he's having a moral crisis. (Cuz he's a Nazi, and he should be having a moral crisis.)
And then the fans break down the gates!
And the movie is ending on this moment of joy and sadness and relief and excitement!
They all become zombies?
I don't understand.
This is the last shot of the movie and I don't. I don't. I don't understand.
Here, watch this, we'll all feel better: