Stilted World War II drama from Robert Zemeckis, starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard
A romantic drama set against the backdrop of World War II, Allied is a very different beast to the last time Brad Pitt immersed himself in one of modern history's most catastrophic conflicts. That film, Fury, was an ultra violent, mud-splattered look at battle. Allied, written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and directed by Robert Zemeckis, is a clean-cut Casablanca wannabe, that appears to be entirely unconcerned with connecting to reality. Even the sets – perhaps deliberately – have an artificial feel, as if Zemeckis is wistfully recalling Hollywood's Golden Age.
Pitt plays Max Vatan, a Canadian intelligence officer we first see parachuting gracefully into the sand dunes of French Morocco in 1942. His mission is to hook up with his 'wife' – really a Resistance agent named Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard) – and, together, they must assassinate the German ambassador. Successfully dispatching their target, Max implores Marianne to come with him to London – and, after some stringent background checks, they marry and have a child.
Like the recent hit The Girl on the Train, Allied explores how well you know the person closest to you, and the second half hinges on a revelation that turns the couple's relationship on its head. In truth, it's so mechanically plotted you can hear the gears crunch – even in moments of tragedy the story fails to grip, and it's hard to feel for these characters.
There are some nice supporting turns from the Brits: Jared Harris as Pitt's commanding officer; Simon McBurney as a high-ranking official; and Matthew Goode as a scarred veteran. Technically, the film is slick – mixing practical and CG effects to recreate war-torn London – but without believability or dynamism the end result feels sterile. Far from setting the screen ablaze with their chemistry, Pitt and Cotillard are rather mannequin-like – they look fantastic in their beautifully tailored 40s fashion, but seem awkward. A handsome film, then, that never really comes to life.
General release from Fri 25 Nov.