Film review: Allied – Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard find love in implausible second world war thriller
The only positives in this cliché-ridden, humdrum affair are the costumes and sets; it lacks any real suspense and there is scant on-screen magic between its two big-name co-stars
Robert Zemeckis’ attempt to make a classically styled second world war thriller is a disappointment. Although costumes and sets look suitably glorious, there’s little on-screen magic between co-stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. Worse, Steven Knight’s script is clumsy, and the activities of the characters entail an impossible suspension of disbelief.
Zemeckis is well schooled in classic movies of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, so this lack of attention to credibility comes as a shock. The film has been compared to Casablanca, but that must be the result of good marketing, as the only similarity is that the opening sequences of Allied are set there.
It starts with Canadian airman Max (Pitt) parachuting into a north African desert, and hooking up with German-speaking Marianne (Cotillard) in Casablanca. The two spies pose as husband and wife to pull off an impossible assassination. They escape to England and marry – but then British intelligence informs Max that his wife may be a Nazi spy. Max risks his life, and the lives of those under his command, to try to prove her innocence.
The Casablanca-set section of the film is good fun in a comic-book kind of way – it’s similar to Romancing the Stone, the excellent action romance that Zemeckis directed back in 1984. But the storyline rapidly gets out of hand when the action moves to London, and the plot starts to feel like it’s been mapped out on a spreadsheet which checks all the necessary clichés.
Max effortlessly flies in and out of Nazi-occupied Europe like he’s travelling on a low-cost airline, and is strangely unmoved by the deaths he causes amongst his colleagues as he tries to clear his wife. Allied owes something to Notorious (1946), the Alfred Hitchcock romance which featured Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman as spies, but suspense is lacking in this humdrum affair.
Allied opens on January 5
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