Allied Movie Review
Allied Movie Review Metadata
I’m not sure what people expect when they buy a ticket for Allied, opening in time for the Thanksgiving holiday and Oscar consideration. The trailer tells you it might be an action film with lots espionage. There may be sex and torture and that’s your hook. Maybe you just want to see Brad Pitt in a Big Boy role where he takes his shirt off. Maybe you’re hoping Allied is a cross between Casablanca (1942) and Mr and Mrs Smith (2005).
It’s not, he doesn’t and there isn’t nearly enough of either. It doesn’t know what it wants to be, so you basically get nothing.
Max Vatan (Brad Pitt, World War Z (2013)) is a Canadian RAF intelligence officer who lands all cool spy-like in 1942 Casablanca. He’s only instructions are sparse and vague, but he transitions with James Bond grace into his role complete with fancy car and beautiful devoted wife. His contact, Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard, Inception (2010)), is a French Resistance fighter who knows how the game is played and coaches him on his mission, filling in blanks, helping him with his French. She feels authentic because she says she makes her feelings authentic – how she feels about her “friends” her life in Casablanca, and now her “husband”. Max goes along for the sake of the mission but begins having authentic feelings of his own. They complete their mission (!ACTION!) and flee to London where they are married and life is wonderful for almost a year. All seems well (except for that pesky war) until the RAF discover Marianne may not be who she claims. Max doesn’t know if he’s being tested for a promotion within the intelligence community or if his wife’s life is actually a filthy traitor.
Max’s devolution from badass agent who drops from the sky to confused lovestruck puppy is jarring. Maybe it’s because he’s Canadian (what do they know about stoicism, amirite?), but I would expect spies to have a little more common sense, especially when hooking up with random women in strange cities. On a very base level, Marianne is everything a man like Max could want – she’s beautiful, she’ll sleep with him in a sandstorm, and she’ll give him children. She couldn’t possibly betray him and the Allied Forces, right? RIGHT? As Max tries to prove the RAF wrong, he’s met with dead ends and stern reprimands from his superior officers. The is she/isn’t she isn’t as gripping as the movie would have you believe. You have a basic idea of how this will end fairly early on, and the hard part is waiting through a plodding 3rd act to get there.
Robert Zemeckis (Forest Gump (1994)) and screenwriter Steven Knight (BBC’s Peaky Blinders) would like you to believe that love can conquer all, even a potential sleeper spy traitor trying to hand the war war to the Germans. Max jumps through a lot of hoops to prove she’s the authentic woman he fell in love with. This is troublesome for obvious reasons. With all of the poor choices Max makes I can see why his character is Canadian, and not American – it’s a very pointed departure. Either because of the way the movie is edited or maybe just poor directing, there’s no way to tell for sure if and when everyone is lying. In fact, we never really know for sure when excuses are handed out and grim nods are accepted. There is no “proof” and no solid reason why that probably isn’t a lie. It doesn’t make for good drama – it makes for poor storytelling. Allied a good drama and passable romance for the first two acts, but during the race to the finish someone decided more explosions were needed. Let’s not even start with the hackneyed scene tacked on the end to maybe elicit sympathy or closure. It doesn’t work for either. It almost transitioned into a Canadian version of American Pastoral (2016).
Lots of scenes suggested it might end a different way. Unfortunately too many red herrings and wasted opportunities left unanswered questions. I can speculate rewrites and post-production cleanup, with a healthy dash of “too many cooks”, but none of those reasons make the version we have any better.
Allied isn’t much of a love story or a thriller or spy spectacle. It’s two beautiful, if dim, people trying to convince themselves and us that all you need is love.
We on the other hand would have liked more tension, less melodrama, and maybe Brad Pitt taking off his shirt.
Allied is rated R for people getting shot, wartime fisticuffs, some hot and heavy in a nice car, nudity (side boob and a Pitt butt cheek), mild language. In other words, nothing you’re not already seeing on a 10:00 PM drama.