Brad Pitt is good at making two types of films where he is the centre of attention: one, the flicks where he’s bat-shit insane. Two, the one’s where there’s lots of action and running, all the time. The best are a combination of these. Allied is not one of those films.
Opening in Morocco, Pitt’s Canadian spy Max, parachuted into German-occupied territory, makes contact with glamorous French secret-service agent Marianne (Marion Cotillard) who together plot the assassination of a senior Nazi henchman. Mission all wrapped up and now married together with child in blitz-ridden London, the film takes some time to get along to its main premise, the question of whether Marianne is in fact a German spy, and whether Max, as per procedure, has to execute her himself.
Allied, obsessed with the spy classics of the 1940’s where it is set, not only opens in Casablanca but has a pivotal scene centred on a recital of Le Marseillaise. A clear affection for the espionage flicks of old apparent throughout, this is exactly the type of film Alfred Hitchcock would have made if he were alive today, though the master of suspense would have done it considerably better.
Exhibiting less-than-average performances from the main stars, who also lack the chemistry of their elder counterparts, say, Paul Newman and Julie Andrews, Pitt slamming a chair against the wall and loudly proclaiming the accusation is “preposterous” is not one of the talented actor’s finest moments. In his element when lobbing grenades at a Panzer tank or leading a small group of misfits behind German lines ala Inglourious Basterds, Max’s protestations or strained encounters with his wife never pack quite the oomph of the film’s few action sequences.
The ending, carried by Cotillard, is not unsurprising if the most thrilling segment of the film. The few scenes evidenced where she is without her husband and we are left to wonder just what is going on behind her glacial façade prove the best and most suspenseful of the picture, which could have been a great deal better if more of the focus was on Marianne and not Max.
Enjoyable if lacking, Allied is of an era to which it never quite holds a candle.
Allied is in cinemas now