What a dud. This film had a lot going for it: two great A-list actors in the lead roles, an incredible visionary director, and a premise that, although overused in Hollywood, is nevertheless always intriguing. So how then could Allied be such a bore?
Allied is the cleverly titled fictional WWII story of two spies, Max (Brad Pitt) a Canadian working for the Brits, and Marianne (Marion Cotillard) a French-woman partnered with Max. The two spies meet in a mission in Casablanca, and while on the job they fall in love (haven’t seen that before…). When discharged from their mission in North Africa the two go back to London together and get married and settle down. However, after a few years of Marianne becoming a housewife and Max working for the army behind a desk, Max’s bosses call him in and tell him that they suspect his wife is a Germany spy. Therein is the big tension of the film, and from the premise itself, it would seem to be a true nail-biter.
However, Robert Zemeckis and Steve Knight (the director and screenwriter respectively) aren’t able to pull it off. The film has many things wrong; in the structural side it seemed way too fast, this pacing got the right note when Zemeckis did Forrest Gump, but here you are never able to get any character development before jumping into future events. Then there were the tension moments, which could have essentially saved this film by making it a fair thriller, but every single tension-filled moment in the film is so forced and unnatural that you never buy into it and thus don’t feel any stress in the atmosphere. But if there’s anything Zemeckis is known for in his films, it’s that they usually have a very distinct visual style, and that is apparent too in Allied with the constant gray and blue look, and incredible set design.
Then, the actors. Both Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard have shown in other films that they are incredible actors, but in Allied they simply didn’t fit together. This isn’t only a comment on their chemistry on screen (they have none, I’m surprised any rumors of them having an affair on set surfaced), but their acting is off too. Pitt gives us a very low-energy performance and looks bored throughout much of the film. Cotillard meanwhile hogs much of the screen in the first half, and ends up coming off more obnoxious and arrogant than the probably strong character she wanted to pull off.
In the end Allied is a wasted opportunity. The idea of the story comes across, but the filmmakers are too focused on keeping the story moving along to let you enjoy it too much. The tension never escalates thanks to a combination of incongruent actors and forced scenes. Let’s hope these great artists can put this film behind them and move on to better pieces that we know they’re capable of.