By: Samar Khan
Granted, there are very few films that can surpass the sublime quality of the 1942 classic so that won’t be held against Allied much. However, deliberately evoking much of the classic means that a comparison is warranted and despite its pretty darn good quality, Allied just does not measure up. Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard shine in a good film that lacks the requisite unique concept or ingredient to put it over the top.
—MINOR SPOILERS BELOW—
The story of Allied is simple: a Canadian intelligence officer during the second World War meets up with a resistance fighter in the gorgeous country of Morocco and falls in love upon the completion of their mission. They get married and relocate to London, where the superiors of the intelligence officer begin to question whether the wife is who she claims to be or… a spy (DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN).
Brad Pitt plays Max, the aforementioned intelligence officer, and he manages to portray the tortured lover in the second half with such an intensity, I genuinely believed he was heartbroken. I’ve heard Pitt described as a character actor trapped in a leading man’s body and that description just seems so apt here. He’s got the looks of a prototypical leading man but is much more versatile and talented at acting itself so he falls into a category of his own. In other words: Pitt was great.
Marion Cotillard plays Marianne and is right at home as a French resistance fighter, a role that seemed to be written for her due to her French background. She and Pitt have obvious chemistry on screen and she showcases the acting chops that have won her an Oscar in scenes demanding her excellence. In other words: Cotillard was also great.
The supporting cast was pretty spectacular, beginning with everybody’s favourite British character from AMC’s Mad Men in Jared Harris. Harris has shown he is capable of playing varying types of characters in the past and that is on display once again as he plays Frank Heslop, the superior to Pitt’s Max. He isn’t afforded very much screen-time at all but makes his scenes count when he does appear with that glorious moustache.
Lizzy Caplan and Simon McBurney play rather minor roles in the supporting cast themselves and are generally solid, with the latter playing a droll yet menacing S.O.E. official with aplomb. More McBurney is always a good thing but sadly, his scenes are extremely limited.
A special mention must go to August Diehl, playing the target of Cotillard and Pitt’s mission at the start of the film. He’s essentially been typecast as the prototypical Nazi soldier in quite a few films (it certainly feels that way) but he plays his characters so well, it’s hard not to see why directors are always enamoured with his efforts. His role was relatively minor as well (first act solely) but he stole the scene when on screen, a tough task when sharing said screen space with the duo of Pitt and Cotillard.
The sound was wonderful throughout but lacked that extra oomph that Hacksaw Ridge had during combat scenes, slightly holding it back. The sounds of the weaponry and a certain segment into German-occupied France had an accompanying tense score that really immersed the viewers further into the plot.
The visuals were gorgeous, to put it simply. From the very beginning, when Pitt’s Max parachutes into the desert and goes on a trek across a number of sand dunes (very reminiscent of the introduction to Uncharted 3‘s as shown above) to displays of air warfare between German and British planes, there was always eye candy to ogle for the viewing audience.
Compared to director Robert Zemeckis‘ previous films, the film just isn’t that deep. The lack of any other-worldly performance from the leads or unoriginal love story keeps it from coming close to the aforementioned Casablanca (everything from the dialogue to the Morocco scenes was inspired by the classic). Additionally, the stakes just didn’t feel that large. The audience knew the answer to the plot as soon as it was revealed, something that Zemeckis could have done a better job of disguising throughout and making the final reveal that much more of a shock. For what we received, it was a valiant effort but that feeling of “it could have been more” just cannot be shaken.
So, in summation: an obviously Casablanca-inspired WW2 thriller starring two of Hollywood’s best actors with a barebones plot that is complemented by a pretty decent score and a great supporting cast. Allied is a good film that I recommend to our readers but don’t go in expecting anything more than a gorgeous yet predictable thriller.
After careful deliberation, The Film Lawyers have graced Allied with a grade of C+ (6.9/10).