Dan's Review: "Allied" looks better than it is
Nov 23, 2016 12:02AM ● Published by Dan Metcalf
Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in Allied - © 2016 - Paramount
Rated R for violence, some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use.
Starring Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Matthew Goode, Lizzy Caplan, Anton Lesser, August Diehl, Camille Cottin, Charlotte Hope, Marion Bailey, Simon McBurney, Daniel Betts, Thierry Frémont.
Written by Steven Knight.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis.
Sometimes, a movie looks better than it is. There are really famous, good-looking people in them, they are directed by celebrated and successful directors, they have solid screenwriters with proven track records and are effectively promoted. So, what could be wrong with a movie starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, directed by Robert Zemeckis, and written by Steven Knight? Allied, a story loosely based on a rumor about married spies during World War II seems like one of those “can’t miss” films, but is it?
Pitt stars as Max Vattan, a Canadian operative assigned to work with Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard), a French expatriate and resistance fighter who poses as his wife on a mission to assassinate a Nazi-linked diplomat in Morocco. While posing as a married couple, the pair become close, and following the completion of their mission, Max returns to London, where he takes up a desk job with British Intelligence. Max successfully arranges Marianne’s emigration to England where they are married and have child. Everything seems blissful until Max’s commander Frank (Jared Harris) and an internal security chief (Simon McBurney) inform him that Marianne may be a Nazi spy, sending war secrets to Berlin. Max is informed that Marianne will be tested with a fake message to discover if she really is a Nazi, and if she is, he will have to kill her himself, or face treason charges. He is also forbidden from investigating Marianne himself. Max ignores the order not to investigate, which leads him down a trail that may lead to a difficult decision.
As mentioned, Allied has all the clear indicators of a hit film: stars, talented team, intriguing wartime story. Perhaps it’s a victim of its own expectations, but Allied misses the mark as a memorable film, or at the very least, a film with anything important to share. Sure, Brad Pitt is no slouch as a leading man, but he’s starting to look a little too old for roles like this one. He’s in his 50s, and the part seems more suited for a man in his 30s. It also appears that he’s wearing more makeup than before. Cotillard is brilliant as usual, but her role is a little too mysterious, and the payoff at the end of the movie for her character is a little disappointing.
Even with such flaws, Allied is an intriguing war story, complete with time-transporting special effects, costumes and set design. There’s a good amount of spy intrigue as well, but nothing too clever. Allied tries really hard to be a classic wartime spy film, but it’s more like an overblown version of Prizzi’s Honor (Google it).Steven Knight conceived Allied based on a rumor he heard about a British spy being married to a suspected Nazi spy during WWII, but there’s no documentation of any such occurrence. Hence, the “based on real events” claim attached to Allied should be taken with a grain of salt.