Catching up on some movies I missed in the last year or two I came across Allied. The World War II drama is directed by auteur Robert Zemeckis and stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. If the talent and setting isn’t enough to grip you, read on.
Max Vatan (Pitt) is a Canadian intelligence officer on a deep cover mission in North Africa circa 1942. Tracking a top Nazi target Vatan teams with Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard). The two pose as husband and wife for the remainder of the mission. After the long time spent in close quarters posing as husband and wife the two decide to make the fiction their reality. They leave the spy world behind and get married in London.
After years of marriage and the birth of their child, Vatan is called in by his superiors. He’s told that Beausejour is a German spy and is under investigation. The plot is further complicated by Vatan having to be the one to execute her if found guilty or be killed himself if found in cohersion. Vatan is instructed not to conduct his own investigation.
Written by Steven Knight, Allied is a polished and taut thriller that keeps the audience guessing without divulging false information or cheap tricks. The plot twists come naturally. They are spaced out with enough time between for the characters to react, process, and act, on the information. The audience is able to keep up but can never quite get comfortable.
Robert Zemeckis proves once again why he is held in such high regard among filmmakers. The execution of the smart script is fantastic. The locations and setting feel real. The period is set perfectly. Every last detail of the film serves the greater narrative. Hints are peppered into the beginning of the film that don’t feel like hints later. The payoff comes and delivers exciting ‘a-ha’ moments as the plot spirals to its conclusion.
In recent times trailers seem to deliver the entire movie in five to seven minutes of disjointed scenes. Obviously knowing the outcome of Allied would have taken a lot of the suspense out of the film and lucky for us as movie-goers we were spared the spoilers and given enough to chew on to keep it interesting. Having said that, if the movie was ultimately spoiled for you it’s still worth your time in watching. The acting, directing, and writing are all excellent and work together to deliver a fine feature.
The World War II setting never gets old for American audiences. The war has been explored deeply but new stories are still being told. Allied tells an original story in a linear fashion. It doesn’t try to be deeper than it is, it doesn’t aim to confuse. It aims to entertain and its successful in that endeavor.
POTENTIAL MINOR SPOILERS
When it gets to the end the bow put on the overall story is a bit too tidy for the depth of espionage in a spy movie. It doesn’t ruin the movie but feels like it was added in after for the slower members of test audiences. Why Jared Harris’s character was forced to say such a simple and clunky line at the time kinda cheapens the emotional impact of the scene. This is a bit of nitpicking on my part, but as the last thing in the film it does sit with you.
Allied – 4/5
Allied is streaming free for Amazon Prime members.