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Allied Review


Allied is somewhat of a rare thing these days – a Robert Zemeckis film that functions almost entirely without the aid of crucial CGI. Indeed, in the years since 2000’s Cast Away, only the director’s 2012 airline drama Flight veered away from computer generated actors and green screen-heavy environments (despite the odd blockbuster effects sequence). This World War II suspense drama, then, is about as old-fashioned Hollywood as Zemeckis has ever been, drawing on classics like Casablanca and running the gamut of Hitchcock-inspired suspense. Allied certainly looks the part. The impeccable wartime costume design, breathtaking Moroccan vistas and explosive skies of Blitzkrieg-era London add up to a fabulous period aesthetic; throughout, Allied is a sumptuous feast for the eyes and should prove a visual thrill for any WWII fanatic. However, despite conducting affairs at a fairly thrilling pace, Zemeckis fails to produce a genuinely compelling story. Allied gets by on pure aesthetic, some curious narrative intrigue and a handful of thrilling set-pieces but is let-down by a distinct absence of chemistry between its two stars, Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard; a major flaw in a story that hinges on a central, ostensibly remarkable romance.

Pitt plays Canadian intelligence officer Max Vatan, operating in French Morocco in 1942. Vatan meets up with Cotillard’s French Resistance agent Marianna Beausejour and they play the part of a married couple while carrying out a secret mission behind enemy lines. Naturally, faux-love mutates into the real thing and, after reuniting in London after a job well done, Max and Marianna get married. However, the war rages on – Max’s superiors advise him that Marianna is possibly a sleeper spy working for the Germans. Ordered to execute his wife if the intel proves true, Max sets out to prove her innocence. 

Visually, Allied is routinely fabulous – especially in the early Moroccan sequences. When period glitz eventually gives way to violent grit, the change is sudden and disturbing; each brief moment of violence that follows is alarming and thoroughly unglamorous. Things slow down rather suddenly once the action moves to London. At the film’s major turning point, we’re threatened with some Hitchcockian suspense and intrigue, a threat that Allied never fully delivers on. Those few moments of genuine suspense, thrilling as they are, are unfortunately short-lived. Regardless, the second half of Allied is replete with a number of spine-tingling set pieces that should have more than a few backsides teetering on seat-edges. Some of the blitzkrieg segments are delightfully nightmarish; capturing bought the wonder and menace of a sky ablaze with warfare.

It’s unfortunate, then, that we never truly develop an attachment to the story’s protagonists and, consequently, rarely get emotionally involved in the narrative. The sex-factor is amped from the couple’s first encounter and their future romance is heavily signposted, up until the film’s first romantic interlude. Pitt turns in a relatively sleepy performance, and while Cotillard works a little harder at emotional investment, without any real chemistry it’s all in vein. Max seeks out Marriana’s innocence with furious, violent determination, but fails to exhibit that same raw emotion with simply interacting with his supposed beloved. It’s a shame the central romance doesn’t quiet work; there’s a great story at the heart of Allied with some genuine suspense and a spot-on WWII aesthetic. Allied has its moments, just not enough of them.

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The Movie Bit: Allied Review
Allied Review
The Movie Bit
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