- Title: Allied
- IMDb: link
There’s so much wrong with Allied it’s hard to know where to start. At times director Robert Zemeckis‘ film is laughably, occasionally excruciatingly, bad. In its best moments Allied is ill-conceived, and it doesn’t have many of those.
Who thought it was good idea to set a WWII movie in Casablanca? The script by Steven Knight (Burnt, Seventh Son, Eastern Promises) plays like a bad romance novel mashed-up with a hollow spy thriller. The result might make for an okay trashy vacation read on the beach but fails spectacularly on film.
Reminding you immediately of Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Casablanca, spies Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard) meet in Casablanca. Assigned by their respective countries to work together to kill a high-ranking Nazi officer, the pair play husband and wife while falling into causal sex which I guess is supposed to look like love on film. (It doesn’t.) In a move that seems completely out of the blue, after completing their mission, Max invites Marianne to return to England with him and be his wife. And life is good, for awhile, until Max discovers that his wife may be a German spy.
For the story to work we need to believe Max loves his wife and trusts her implicitly. Here’s the first problem. After some flirtations in Casablanca and one ridiculous softcore porn style night together in the dessert I was still never convinced of the depth of Max’s feelings for the woman. Sure, there’s some base attraction there. But love? Enough to propose marriage? As for trust, Max proposes to a woman he barely knows, who lies for a living, and is then surprised to learn a year or so later she might not be who she appears? Shocker!
Another piece of the script which is vital to selling the premise is for the audience to be unsure, or at least conflicted, about Marianne’s true loyalties. The problem is there isn’t much mystery here. I formed my theory early on in the movie and it was never once shaken. It’s far too easy to see what the screenwriter has in mind for these characters and the wishy-washy reveal ends the movie on a completely unsatisfying note.
Cotillard is, by far, the best thing about the movie. Marianne Beauséjour is a radiant force to be reckoned with as she effortlessly wins people over and bends them to her will. Pitt, with his unfortunate recent plastic surgery, is sleepwalking through the film in a role that demands none of his usual charm. The supporting cast, which includes a one-armed man with answers (of course it does), is completely forgettable including a half-assed subplot involving Lizzy Caplan as Max’s gay sister which never goes anywhere. It also doesn’t help that the CGI and backdrops used in the film to showcase locations look unintentionally Ed Wood-like.
Allied is a trainwreck from beginning to end. It squanders its talent. The script is a mess whose setting forces you to compare to what is considered the greatest movie ever made. There may be individual scenes which work, mostly featuring Cotillard, but Pitt’s increasingly ridiculous one-man mission to discover the truth about his wife falls completely flat. Just in time for Thanksgiving, this one’s a real turkey.