Reviewed by Nicholas Vandeloecht
Get ready for the test of your patience that you never saw coming! Allied is a new release from acclaimed director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Castaway, Back to the Future) and stars Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt in a period piece romance about two spies who fall in love during a covert mission in Casablanca and then how the husband, played by Pitt, gets information about how his wife could be working for the Germans, and so now he has to either prove her innocence or, if she is a spy, he must kill her. Because what sells your allegiance to the good side any better than executing the love of your life, right?
For those looking to watch this film, I must warn you that the trailers are a tad misleading about what this movie is exactly. This is not a full-on spy thriller. It certainly has moments of espionage, but Allied is first and foremost a romance – or at least an attempt at one. The first half of the movie shows how the two leads come to “fall in love” with each other, and then the second half gets into more of the spy stuff that may have been what you were actually waiting for. Well get ready to wait for what feels like forever! First off, what this movie does get right is the feel of the era and an A-list performance from Cotillard. She becomes a part of the time she’s acting in, which really comes to life on the screen with the costumes and set pieces and this depiction of a 1940s Great Britain that’s struggling to maintain something it can call a life during the German air raids. This movie does capture atmosphere and it does really paint this portrait that you can fall right into and enjoy. If you came to see who a 1940s Cotillard would be like and what she would wear, then this is your movie.
There are a few scenes in this movie that really work and do pay homage to the films of the time that it’s trying to capture, namely the 1942 film, Casablanca. One reviewer questioned one long-drawn scene around the midway where Pitt has to walk quite a ways to get to this room where he meets with these people who assign him his next mission. I actually thought it worked rather well because you saw how far he has to go to get this hidden-away locale and meet with these people in secret. It builds tension and gives you the sense that these guys are taking steps to ensure their info remains classified. There is an end sequence that comes off as jarring and almost comical when it’s supposed to be this really tense moment, and while it was ultimately handled more sloppily than expertly, the way the scene plays out would have been similar to how a film of the 1940s would have handled it.
The beginning does do okay in preparing you for the slow-paced film you’re about to see, and there’s a good showing of what Pitt’s character is without needing dialogue. Sadly, this movie is a literal drag. There are several monents, including the scenes I mentioned, that could’ve been sped up, but the film aims instead to go for the slow burn which doesn’t always work as not everything they show in screen is interesting or engaging. The pacing makes little sense for a movie containing spy elements, killing the sense or urgency in places where it should be. Music also isn’t used in the best way. There are some dramatic music swells that feel out of place in a movie where everything else, from the characters to the costumes and sets, is trying to the capture the feeling of the 40s. Had they gone for more of the musical cues from movies like Casablanca and others of the time, that would’ve been super cool.
Perhaps the biggest gripe one can take away from this film is a lack of chemistry between the two leads. In a movie that centers on their romance and the tension that arises from this very upsetting reveal with Cotillard’s character, the leads don’t do enough to sell that they’re in love, particularly in the first half of the film. Part of it might have been that Pitt sometimes felt out of place beyond the withdrawn attributes of his character, but together they never felt like a real couple that I was full-on rooting for to stay together and overcome this bad situation. Sure, you see them have sex, but just because you see two characters screw doesn’t mean they automatically are believable as a couple in love. The sandstorm scene also is as cheesy as it gets. Overall I left this movie feeling let down. I think those of you who are a fan of this era of film and of Cotillard will forgive its flaws, but overall the sluggish pacing and unconvincing love story barely make it worth one full watch. Allied gets a 5.4.