by Lachlan Anderson
Rated MA15+. Starring Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard. Directed by Robert Zemeckis.
Last year veteran filmmaker Robert Zemeckis traversed the New York skyline in the effects heavy The Walk, but his latest film plants its feet firmly on the ground to explore the tangled world of WWII spies. Don’t think Bond though. Allied has more of Casablanca than Goldfinger in its DNA.
Canadian Air Force intelligence officer Max Vatan (Pitt) parachutes into German occupied Morocco to rendezvous with French resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard) and assassinate the Nazi ambassador. Despite their misgivings about becoming involved, their marriage roleplaying leads to real romance, though neither can really be sure they if can trust the other.
Pairing Cotillard and Pitt together sounds like the perfect kind of casting, particularly when you want them to have huge amounts of chemistry and charisma onscreen. Sadly in this case it just doesn’t have any spark. Cotillard is on her usual good form as the elegant Parisian and carries a lot of the films first half. It’s hard to say the same for Pitt though who looks wooden in comparison. Anyone who gave credence to the rumours the two actors were having an affair, and ended Pitt’s marriage, need only watch Allied to put that gossip to rest.
Zemeckis’ film though has plenty of high moments. The first act is an elegant nod to romance classics like the earlier mentioned Casablanca, but the Moroccan sunshine is replaced by drizzly London skies and we shift to a more thrilling spy caper. While it’s a good change of pace, particularly for Pitt who feels more comfortable in this half of the movie, it does make it seem like we get two short films for the price of one. Fans of Inglorious Basterds will also appreciate an electric end to the Morocco sequence that calls back Tarantino’s film. Not to mention Inglorious actor August Diehl who again appears as an icy Nazi officer.
Spy films are built on the notion of identity and the flexibility our identities possess when we need them to. Allied at its heart wants to discuss whether love can win against suspicion. Trust is a tricky concept in the world of spies. You can imagine it is almost non-existent. Yet, the intelligence agents on our screens are constantly entrusting their lives into the hands of their fellow agents and the agencies they work for.
Christianity is a belief built on a lot of trust. Can we trust our lives to a God we can’t see? It’s not always easy and sometimes requires a lot of faith. Trustworthiness is earned though. Where espionage workers may not trust others because of the nature of their work we can safely trust in God, who has shown throughout history that he does not change, and keeps his promises.
The Verdict: Zemeckis’ wartime spy flick is an enjoyable watch, particularly for the game of cat and mouse in the last half but a lack of chemistry between the two leads makes it hard to buy into the romance that drives the entire narrative. 3/5
Allied releases in Australia on December 26th. It is already screening in the USA.