Jake Richardson | 28/12/2016
Despite the star wattage of the leading couple, Allied is an underdeveloped combination of two sub-genres that just doesn’t work.
Robert Zemeckis tries his hand at a war film for the first time with Allied, a tale of a pair of spies who meet and fall in love during an operation in Casablanca. Max Vatan (Brad Pitt), a Canadian intelligence officer, meets his faux-wife Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), a female French Resistance fighter, in North Africa. There, they are tasked to assassinate a German Ambassador at an upcoming party, and in the process wind up falling in love.
They move back to England, where Max is based, and marry. Where, they also have a child, and life seems idyllic until one year later, when Max is informed that his loving wife may be a spy.
Zemeckis’ film combines a first half that feels like a war romp, similar to Inglorious Basterds or Valkyrie in tone, and a back half that feels more like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In this case, the melding of war film and spy thriller just doesn’t work, and in many respects that is due to the differing effectiveness of the two halves. The Casablanca set beginning is much stronger than the London-based ending. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the grouchy Max’s relationship with Marianne when they first meet is much more believable. They start out as very reserved, and this feels natural at the start. As the plot progresses and they are meant to be more and more in love, their reservedness is somewhat off-putting; particularly when they have had a child together.
Cotillard is still a joy to watch, and lends her character a necessary air of intrigue that is not so much evident from the jumpy plot. Pitt, despite his ever-changing French accent in Casablanca, is also good, although he can’t match Cotillard. Some of the side characters are also good. Jared Harris is fun to watch as Max’s wearied superior Frank Heslop, and Simon McBurney is excellent in a very small role. Lizzy Caplan as Max’s sister doesn’t quite gel, however, particularly in a
seemingly open lesbian relationship that feels forced; particularly post-The Imitation Game where we found out so much about the difficulties faced in that time.
Nevertheless, it is the plotting that really lets this film down. There just isn’t enough time devoted to developing the progression of these relationships; particularly Max and Marianne’s. It is almost laughable when he proposes to her as he speeds away from the scene of their assassination, and it is incredibly on the nose when their child is born during an air-raid. In the end, Zemeckis leans too heavily on the start and finish of the film, and neglects some necessary exposition in the middle.
Despite a nuanced performance from Cotillard, Allied is too underdeveloped to get you to really care about the characters, and makes this film more of a curiosity rather than a holiday must-see.