All images courtesy of Paramount Pictures
In Robert Zemeckis’ latest cinematic adventure, ALLIED, the innovative director that brought us iconic pop culture staples like Forrest Gump and the Back to the Future franchise, dives into espionage, romance, and World War II via the story of Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), two operatives who are blindly paired together to act like husband and wife in Casablanca to complete the dangerous mission of taking out Germany’s ambassador. But amidst all the classified spy work and shoot-outs, the two end up falling for each other and become real-life husband and wife. They move to London, have a child and everything is hunky dory until Max finds out that his wife may have been a double agent from the moment they met in Casablanca.
With a script by Steven Knight, Allied is Zemeckis’ attempt to give us an interesting spin on the run-of-the-mill Hollywood World War II spy movie. There’s Nazis, double-crossings, gunfire, planes flying overhead, and the lingering feeling of “who can you trust?” Adding elements of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Zemeckis has packaged a stunning movie that has the glamorous and old fashioned sheen of classic Hollywood. Even though the art direction and costuming will make everyone soon, the finely curated World War II “look” doesn’t make up for its overall dullness played out by two talented actors.
Allied barely has a handful of great moments and it lacks the sexiness and sleekness a movie should have based on the lead actors. Unfortunately, Pitt and Cotillard have an inconsistent chemistry. At times, they click (like in the very hot love-making scene in the car while in a sandstorm) and other times there is no life behind their eyes when they talk. Their partnership sputters around and never really lights up the screen. Perhaps, it had to do with their ambiguous relationship, but despite all their effort to make this movie something spectacular, it ultimately falls flat. The movie seems like an excuse to get two of the prettiest actors in Hollywood together on screen and have a generic movie built around them.
If anything, the tension of the “is she or isn’t she a spy” provides a modicum of excitement of the movie, giving the audience some sort of investment to latch on to besides the gorgeous scenery which makes the movie feel like a high-budget Universal Studios attraction (or in this case, Paramount). Cotillard does well shooting a gun in a silk cocktail dress while Pitt dons high-waisted trousers and fedoras like no one’s business. Still, this provides nothing but a beautiful shell to a bland attempt to invigorate a film that was clearly of the Humphrey Bogart ilk. The project was the perfect stage for Cotillard and Pitt to play dress up and do some very broad acting. The two actors lead the charge with all their gusto and try to make the best of what they have, but the entire movie just sits there complacent with its mundane self.
On paper, the idea for Allied seems as if it would be a fantastic, edge-of-your-seat pic of espionage and betrayal. It has all of the elements to make it a late-in-the-year box office hit, but throughout the entire movie it, begs for a jolt of risk, exhilarating passion, and action-packed thrills, but it stays at a safe 55 miles per hour and never accelerates beyond that. It ends up being a waste of talent and a half-baked execution of a fascniating story.
There isn’t anything devastatingly horrible about Allied, but there’s nothing groundbreaking about it either. It’s overwhelmingly average and for a film by Zemeckis starring A-listers like Pitt and Cotillard, that’s a disheartening thing to say. This comes in a long line of “whatever” movies that have been cranked out by the Hollywood machine. Paired with Zemeckis’ last film, The Walk, it’s a double feature of disappointing big-budget films from a director who has contributed so much to pop culture. Allied is so forgettable and plain that it’s difficult to put forth the effort to write any criticism about it.
Running time: 124 minutes
Dino watches too much TV, enjoys reality singing competitions and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
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Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer