Allied November 23, 2016 ALLIED (USA/15A/124mins) Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Starring Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Matthew Goode, August Diehl THE PLOT: Max (Brad Pitt) and Marianne (Marion Cotillard) meet is Casablanca in 1942, when they are tasked with presenting as a couple as cover for a plot to assassinate the German Ambassador. Later, when Max returns to London to help with the war effort from behind a desk, he brings Marianne with him and the two marry. After the two have a child together, Max is given some devastating news; there is evidence to suggest that Marianne is a German spy. THE VERDICT: Brad Pitt leads the cast as Max, a fighter pilot turned spy in ‘Allied’, and although he is rather stiff in the role, it feels as though this was a choice made for the character, rather than a lack of ability or commitment from the actor. Marion Cotillard makes Marianne a ray of light throughout the whole film, and her performance as a diligent spy turned mother and housewife is strong, always keeping the audience guessing as to the character’s true allegiances. The rest of the cast features Jared Harris, Simon McBurney, Sally Messham and Lizzy Caplan, who is sadly underused. Steven Knight’s screenplay is based on a story he was told while travelling the US in his twenties, and it has taken many years to get to the big screen. The story is an engaging one, although there are times when the dialogue, in trying to create mystery, simply creates questions that the film cannot answer, or gives too much away. The film begins to fall apart in the final act, when the story begins to feel drawn out and slightly ridiculous, as Max’s suspicions begin to get the better of him, and make him act rashly. There is also a hint of a lesbian relationship in the film, which people turn a blind eye to since war is all around them, and this feels as though it would have made for a more curious and engaging film. As director, Robert Zemeckis obviously has fun with the period setting of the film, and the time spent in Casablanca is the strongest part of ‘Allied’. It is when the story moves to London that the pacing suddenly drops, and although Marion Cotillard is still lovely as Marian, her luminosity in the role cannot keep the film moving forward. The final half hour begins to border on the ridiculous, and makes the film feel as though it is grinding to a halt. Robert Zemeckis is prolific at the moment, and there are times when ‘Allied’ works incredibly well, but the energy of the film drops, and Zemeckis’ skill at pacing his previous films is not evident here. In all, ‘Allied’ is an interesting story that is let down by its final act, which is over the top, and undermines the emotion and tension built up through the rest of the film. Brad Pitt is fine as Max, but it is Marion Cotillard who steals the show in this oddly paced and slightly ridiculous story. RATING: 3/5 Review by Brogen Hayes filmbuff2011 For a director who has often been on the cutting edge of filmmaking, it’s intriguing to find Robert Zemeckis looking back to the type of film that isn’t really made anymore. Allied is an old-school wartime romance / thriller, that could just have easily been made in the 1940s or 1950s. In that respect, it sits alongside Steven Soderbergh’s The Good German. French Morocco, 1942. Canadian intelligence officer Max (Brad Pitt) parachutes in covertly. He meets up with Marianne (Marion Cotillard), a French Resistance agent who will play the role of his wife as they pose as a glamourous French couple. Their mission is to take out the local German ambassador in Casablanca, so they get to know each other well in order to successfully pull off their mission. Perhaps too well. Later on, the story moves to London at the height of The Blitz. Max and Marianne get married and have a child. Then, one day he’s called in by his superior officer Frank (Jared Harris) and an intelligence agent (Simon McBurney) with some startling news. Marianne may be a German spy… Based on an original script by Steven Knight, Allied is a slow-burning film that takes its time to establish its characters, environment and the pervasive atmosphere of wartime suspicion. The first act sets up the love story to come, the second act adds some frisson and the third act ups the ante as Max desperately tries to find out on his own if Marianne is really a spy before Frank does. You can see where the film is going early on, which is a shame really. Being predictable is generally not a typical trait of a Zemeckis film. Max’s reckless actions later on become questionable too – he’s driven by his heart, rather than his head. Did he ever listen to his superiors? Country first, old boy. The plot is admittedly a bit syrupy and melodramatic, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s hard not to be swept along with the story and the is she / isn’t she element? Then of course, there’s the did they / didn’t they element. Judge for yourself as to whether Cotillard was partly responsible for the break-up of Pitt’s marriage to Angelina Jolie (this reviewer thinks not). They certainly have chemistry together and give good (though not Oscar-worthy) performances which raise the story that little bit higher. The film is at its best early on – why not just expand the first act into a whole film? It might have resulted in something a bit more challenging. Despite its obvious flaws, Allied is still a sweeping, romantic throwback to the films of yesteryear. *** emerb “Allied” is the kind of old-fashioned romantic drama that you don’t often see coming out of Hollywood these days. However, Robert Zemeckis has done an excellent job of giving us a tense, absorbing and highly entertaining World War 11 film without all the bells and whistles. There is no 3D, cutting edge visuals nor explosive imagery but it is nonetheless a highly stylish and swanky espionage thriller which draws you in from the outset. The plot centres on a Canadian Intelligence officer who falls in love with a French Resistance fighter while they are on a mission together in North Africa. As professionalism gives way to pleasure, they both fall in love but as their complex relationship develops, he comes to suspect she may not be all that she seems. All the while, the audience is left wondering about all the true identities and intentions of everyone involved. The film opens in North Africa in 1942 where a Canadian assassin Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) is making his way to Casablanca. He is on a mission to assassinate a high-ranking Nazi ambassador with the help of Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), a French Resistance fighter who will be posing as his wife. Over the course of the next few days, they prepare themselves for the mission while posing as a loving married couple to the outside world. She is good at the game, she knows all the rules of deception, how to pretend to be in love and fit in with the locals. The pair successfully complete the mission and end up safe but on the run. Not hard to guess that the relationship quickly becomes a romantic one and we’re treated to a wildly passionate love making scene in the middle of a dust storm. Before he leaves, Max asks Marianne to return to London with him so that they can get married, despite warnings from their commanders. We move forward one year and relocate to wartime London where Max and Marianne are happily married with a new baby girl. Life almost seems too perfect until, one day, the tranquillity is quickly shattered. Max is called into headquarters and informed by his superiors (Simon McBurney and Jared Harris) that there’s evidence suggesting that the real Marianne Beausejour was killed a couple of years earlier and that his wife is actually a German spy. Max is devastated and has no choice but to obey orders. He must leave some fake information lying around where she can find it and if she passes over the information, then she is guilty. If so, he must kill her and if he helps her in any way, he will be shot too. The next few days, he must become a spy once more and carry on as normal so as not to arouse her suspicion. The two leads, Pitt and Cotillard, are outstanding and very well cast. The chemistry between them is immediately palpable and the film really belongs to them both. Pitt is perfectly debonair in the early scenes as he plays the charismatic but aloof husband in crisp linen suits and then he becomes convincingly anguished later when he is tormented by the thought that his wife may have betrayed him. Cotillard, elegantly donned in her slinky satin dresses, brings depth and emotion to her role as Marianne, keeping us guessing throughout. There isn’t much room for a large supporting cast but Jared Harris and Simon McBurney don’t disappoint in their roles as officious British Intelligence Officers. Lizzy Caplan has a small role as Max’s lesbian sister, but like the rest of the supporting cast, she tends to get overshadowed by the film’s two leads. “Allied” is the type of espionage movie that doesn’t deliver too much in the way of surprise, shock nor action but it reminds us that a good, solidly entertaining drama can generate plenty of suspense and excitement with nothing more than smart filmmaking and a well-written script buoyed by top class performances. Zemeckis finds clever ways of pulling us in with twists and clues, we are constantly guessing but yet he doesn’t confuse us nor overcomplicate the plot. It’s inevitable that there will be comparisons made to “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”, the Pitt/Jolie spy thriller from 2005, especially as each film coincides with a real-life Brad Pitt divorce. In my opinion, this is the far superior film and you’d be well advised not to miss it.