Allied is director Robert Zemeckis’s throwback to old school romantic thrillers and especially if those features were allowed to be a bit more risqué and violent. In case you’re unclear about its influences, our two beautiful leads literally meet in Casablanca in the year that landmark picture was released.
Those two leads are Brad Pitt’s Air Force commander Max Vatan and Marion Cotillard’s French Resistance agent Marianne Beauséjour. When we open, the two are paired on a rather unconventional blind date. They’ve been set up from the get go to pretend they’re married. They are on a mission to assassinate Nazis officers. Marianne is of the belief that getting emotionally involved in her work is a necessity. Max disagrees. For a while at least. Soon, the pretend couple is a real couple and it leads to marriage and a child.
Mr. and Mrs. Vatan experience about a year of wedded bliss. His spy game is still going strong while she’s settled into motherhood. The bottom falls out when Max is told his wife is actually a German spy. He doesn’t believe it, but it initiates what’s referred to as a “blue dye” mission. P.S. – Blue Dye would have been a cooler title than Allied. The mission entails Max passing on false information to her and waiting a few days to see if it ends up in the enemy’s hands.
Steven Knight’s screenplay does a commendable job at keeping us guessing just who Marianne really is. The World War II look and feel is one that’s familiar, but the production design and other technical aspects are first-rate.
A pic like Blue Dye (err Allied) hinges on the chemistry of its leads. There are supporting characters here, but they’re relegated to smallish parts. Lizzy Caplan pops up as Max’s sister (whose sole character trait seems to be that she’s a lesbian) and Jared Harris is Max’s superior. Luckily, Pitt and Cotillard form a nice partnership. There’s a sensuous scene in a sandstorm that’s memorable.
Mr. Pitt is in leading man mode and is solid. Cotillard has the more challenging role and proves again her abilities. Zemeckis has certainly made some genuine classics. Allied isn’t. It’s content to be an homage to other classics. Yet it’s a well-made one that generates enough suspense to make it effective.
*** (out of four)