The year is 1942, in French Morocco an American operative parachutes onto the sandy dunes before being picked up and whisked away to his ‘wife’. This is how Allied begins and, just like the rest of the film, isn’t quite what it seems.
Set during World War II, our story tells the journey of intelligence officer Max (Brad Pitt) who encounters a French Resistance fighter, Marianne (Marion Cotillard), when they embark on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Whilst they prepare for the task ahead the pair fall for each other and, upon completion of their deed, return to London and get married. Cut to a year later and the pair are happily married with a child, but Max gets news that his wife might actually be a German double agent. He has seventy-two hours to test her innocence, is she who he thinks she is? And if not, can he terminate the woman he loves?
A film that has been tarnished pre-release by tabloid speculation, it’s hard to see what all the fuss is about. Upon viewing the film it was pretty hard to see that spark between Cotillard and Pitt; they get along fine, but you can’t quite buy their character’s being desperately and dangerously in love.
Allied starts well enough, the opening half of the film is set in Casablanca as Marianne and Max meet prior to their mission. There are several stand-out scenes within this half of the narrative, the highlight being an assassination over brunch. It’s a tense and quick dispatch that proves why you should always chew your food.
It’s also during these sun-scorched scenes that the movie is its most beautiful and alive. This portion is spectacularly shot, especially the expanses of golden sand dunes. Director Robert Zemeckis manages to emulate the old school classics such as Gone with the Wind and Lawrence of Arabia. The costumes too are stunning and sumptuous, and could easily have come directly from that period. Joanna Johnston will surely get a few nominations come awards season.
As the story shifts to England, the pace slows down and having, for the most part, left the action behind, focuses instead on drama of husband against wife. Once again writer Steven Knight has crafted a clever script that oozes intrigue, keeping the viewer on the back foot for the majority. You’re forever zipping back and forth as to whether Marianne is guilty or not. The film does drag a little in places, especially towards the end. Whilst the images of Blitz Britain are brilliantly displayed, the only purpose they really serve is to hammer home that the story is set amidst WWII.
Though it would benefit from being a touch shorter, Allied is a solid, sweeping war-set tale that harkens back to the golden era of the silver screen.
Extras: The Blu-ray comes with a few bonus featurettes – From Stage to the Sahara, a ten minute look at the production design, the stage construction and the use of CGin the movie; Lights, Pixels, ACTION! Also ten minutes in length, this one show off Allied’s digital effects. There’s also a nine minute documentary called Through the Lens which is essentially the cast and crew describing what it is like to work with director Robert Zemeckis, A Stitch in Time which looks at the costume design, That Swingin’ Sound, which looks at the construction of the score, and ‘Til Death Do Us Part, which takes a look at the characters played by Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. There’s also Story of Allied, which features nterviews with various cast & crew members, and also three other short featurettes called Guys and Gals, Behind the Wheel and Locked and Loaded.
Allied is out now on Digital, DVD and Blu-ray!