Allied is one of those movies that could have been great, but obtrusive faults keep it average at best, which is a real shame; Brat Pitt and Marion Cotillard have great chemistry, the story is enthralling, and you can’t beat a movie set during World War II with a shit ton of wonderful little Casablanca nods and references. I believe that Marion Cotillard is the most beautiful actress working in Hollywood today; she has this classic Hollywood look that no one else really has anymore, and she looks absolutely stunning in the film’ gorgeous costumes. She’s amazingly talented, and so is Brad Pitt. Together, they make a very organic onscreen couple, but there are instances where they both seem to choke on their dialogue. I think the movie would have been better if someone else had directed it, Robert Zemeckis makes big films, and this shouldn’t have been a big film, it should have been small and personal. There are action sequences that seem out of place and they’re distracting, also the characters sometimes make decisions that are completely implausible. Sometimes Cottilard and Pitt find themselves choking on bad dialogue, and certain aspects of their story feel rushed and unnatural.
The story begins in 1942, Max Vatan (Brad Vatan) is a Canadian intelligence officer ordered to rendezvous with the beautiful Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), a woman pretending to be his wife in Casablanca. Their mission is to assassinate a Nazi ambassador. Like I said previously, Pitt and Cotillard have fantastic and believable chemistry, but their relationship feels rushed. One minute Max is vocally proclaiming his distrust for Marianne, and in the next scene they’re making cheesy movie love in a sandstorm. There’s no character growth, and beyond sexual tension there’s virtually no reason that these characters would fall in love and eventually marry each other. Eventually Max and Marianne return to London, and after living a happy and blissful matrimonial life, Max’s superiors begin to suspect that Marianne is a German spy. Max is ordered to aid in an investigation; if the investigation incriminates Marianne, Max must personally execute the woman he fell in love with for treason.
There are some tense moments in the film, and whether Marianne is a spy or not plays as a nice mystery that isn’t too obvious. It keeps you guessing, but once Pitt is ordered to test his wife, Pitt’s acting choices get a little, well…exaggerated. He becomes a bit too suspicious and it defies my suspension of disbelief; Marianne can obviously tell something is up, and that makes it extra obvious for the audience. Intelligence officers are trained to maintain their composure; we see Pitt’s character literally living a lie in the beginning of the movie, and to see him kind of break apart knowing his wife may be a traitor is understandable, but not at that level. I wanted to see him crack a little, not fall apart at the seams. Another gripe I have is that there is this surefire way Max’s superiors have come up with that can tell whether or not Marianne is a spy or not; all Max has to do is wait a few days. Max is ordered not to investigate, but Max literally risks his life, and the lives of several other people just to find out the truth about his wife. It was selfish and reckless, and it just seemed like it was there to throw in a pointless action sequence. In the end, Max comes to his own conclusions that rely on pure happenstance and luck, rather than fact and due diligence.
This film truly shines when it’s about Max and Marianne, and it unequivocally falls apart when it tries to be something more. There’s a scene where Marianne gives birth to their child in the middle of an air raid in London and the effects are unbelievably phony; then Marian says a super cheesy line, and a bunch of people stand around in a circle around her and Max cheering them on while the building around them burn and smolder. It’s so ridiculous and over the top that it cheapens everything about what should be a sweet and tender moment between two people who love each other.
Allied has enough intrigue to keep viewers glued to their seat, and the two leads play off of each other well (for the most part), but it’s not a great movie. It needed to be more personal and smaller scale. Two great leads can’t overcome clunky dialogue and a story that overextends a healthy suspension of disbelief. It’s a damned shame, but this movie just doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.
Allied (2016) Directed by: Robert Zemeckis. Written By: Steven Knight. Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris
6 out of 10