If in the mood for a typical world war ii epic, this isn’t it. “allied” is more of an espionage thriller with more action in the bedroom than the wwii battlefield. With two of the worlds top stars, brad pitt and french actress marion cotillard, the elephant in the room is the overly published breakup of “brangelina.” Then again, all is fair in love and noir.
Of all the gin joints in this world, in walk intelligence officer Max Vatan (Pitt) and French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard). Although this takes place in 1942 Casa Blanca, they don’t cross paths with Rick and Ilsa because this just isn’t the classic “Casa Blanca” (1942), which inspired this Steven Knight story. However, those who enjoy this movie genre might enjoy seeing a quality picture with a refreshing story.
Filmed primarily in the Canary Islands and London, veteran director Robert Zemeckis (“Cast Away, “Forest Gump”) meticulously creates a credible period piece with vintage autos, wartime costumes and elaborate sets. The pacing of this drama is extremely deliberate (slow), but the superstars have a way of carrying this picture throughout.
Posing as a French married couple, the two meet each other for the first time in the presence of the enemy. On a deadly mission in the midst of Nazi occupied territory, they are well prepared and quick on their feet. Max offers, “Heard a lot about you, saying you were beautiful… and good.” Marianne responds, “Being good at this kind of work is not very beautiful.” Their assignment is to assassinate the German Ambassador.
To add to the challenge, Max, a French-Canadian, must alter his Quebec accent to that of a Parisian. Pitt’s French has come a long way since “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) when his character greeted the Germans with a brash “Bawn Jur”! Now, sounding very fluent, it was Cotillard who took it upon herself to coach Pitt on his linguistics.
Posing as man and wife, the two can’t help but fall in love. Although Cotillard is most attractive and bares some resemblance to Angelina Jolie, don’t expect the sparks to fly like they did in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” As Zemeckis and team work every angle to generate some passion and intensity, at best, we would generously call the affair tepid.
After their assignment, the loving couple relocates to London. They marry and have a baby girl during a bombing raid. Max retains his intelligence command while Marianne enjoys her assignment as a stay-at-home mom raising little Anna. When the war ends, they hope to settle on a ranch in Medicine Hat, Canada (above Montana).
Well on their way to “happily ever after,” Max is interrogated by a British SOE (Special Operations Executive) official, “Commander, tell me about your wife.” After a serious accusation, Max explains, “There’s a thing called the soul, I’ve looked into her soul.” The official responds, “No, you looked into her eyes.”
Max is ordered to follow a specific set of procedures. He has only 72 hours to change their minds, but has been directed to not conduct his own investigation. Torn between his sworn sense of duty and the love of his life, he must make crucial decisions that could impact the future of his family and possibly the direction of the entire war.
“Allied” is 124 minutes and rated R for violence, some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use. This is definitely a tribute to old-fashioned espionage thrillers with a non-traditional romance. It is stylish and magnificently photographed. However, the stars carry the day with their spirit of adventure, desire, duty and heartbreak.
It doesn’t always hit the mark and is a little longer than necessary. It might play better with more thriller and lot less filler. Nevertheless, fans of this genre might welcome a return to Casa Blanca and not be disappointed. It could be better, but is still a worthwhile investment of two hours. The couple’s original assignment does ask a nagging question, “How important must one be to be considered assassinated rather than just murdered?”