Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Lizzy Caplan
‘Allied’ features some of the best talent working today, with two great leads in the form of Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, and a legendary director in Robert Zemeckis, known for classics such as ‘Forrest Gump’, ‘Back to the Future’, and ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’ The filmography of these three people alone is interesting and varied enough to make you want to see whatever film they collaborate on together.
The plot of ‘Allied’ follows two spies who meet in World War II going through a mission together where they pretend to be in love, but after the mission they no longer pretend and get married. When an intelligence tip from London comes through telling one member of this happy union that their spouse may be a German spy, the paranoia starts to seep in, and we have a movie.
To be blunt, I was not the biggest fan of ‘Allied’. The writer of this film, Steven Knight, is someone whose scripts I find dull. He creates amazing concepts for plots, and then fills them with time-wasting and repetitive dialogue. That was my main issue with ‘Locke’, it’s why I couldn’t get into TV series ‘Peaky Blinders’, and it’s one the main reasons why I found ‘Allied’ to be underwhelming. The tension that should’ve been present throughout the entire story simply wasn’t there, and it’s from a mixture of bland performances, bland characterisation, semi-bland direction, and an overall mess of tone and pacing.
What is good in the film is the production design and character style. Much of what occurs and is seen on screen feels incredibly authentic, and it takes the form of the dialogue, the set design, the costuming, and the usage of subtle hints at the time-frame. I liked picking out the things that made the film feel as though it tried to be realistic with its WWII setting, from the sandbags everywhere to the music of Benny Goodman.
The performances are mediocre, however the standout by far is Marion Cotillard, who is amazing in everything I’ve seen her in. Supporting roles from character actors like Jared Harris, Simon McBurney, and Lizzy Caplan are all fairly replaceable. Any actor could’ve portrayed the supporting cast, and the majority of their purposes in the film from the script just seem so generic that I don’t know why they had such major parts in the first place. Brad Pitt lacked all the charisma that he’s known for in his work. His character as a spy is intended to be unreadable and mysterious, but Brad Pitt just looked bored. He is by no means awful, but from what we have seen in his past efforts, this is subpar.
For the direction of this film, I stand somewhere in between. Robert Zemeckis is talented without a doubt, but I think he was the wrong choice to make this movie. The script was plodding and slow, and when Zemeckis tried to match it with his direction, it became even slower. This is the director of movies that are fast and often filled with quick dialogue, from ‘Back to the Future’ to ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’ This script doesn’t have any of the elements that make Zemeckis’s movies good. On the other hand, he does what he can with it. The shot composition is fascinating, with lots of good shots featuring mirrors and reflection. The action scenes are tense and suspenseful, but the main romantic story is devoid of the suspense that is needed. To further speak on the pacing, the first 45 minutes was intriguing, the next hour was boring and was basically the trailer expanded into an hour. There’s a good 10 minutes of action in that hour. And then the ending comes and it’s a rushed mess that makes the whole of the movie feel cheapened by how easy the resolution was.
Overall, the movie suffers because it tried to do much without knowing exactly what it wanted to be. It’s a WWII romance, action, suspense, drama with Brad Pitt. They did WWII correctly. I didn’t always buy the romance due to the chemistry not always being believable. The action is good, but there isn’t enough of it. There’s suspense layered throughout, but it never hits as high as it should. It’s slow and features a large amount of unnecessary dialogue with inconsequential characters, and runs out of gas long before the underwhelming finale. If it’s on TV one night with nothing else, it’s watchable, but it’s not worth spending money on. The film could’ve been a great addition to an already great list of WWII movies, instead, this one will be forgotten within the next year.