“Allied” Movie Review

After saving the world from a zombie outbreak, Lt. Aldo Raine is back to kill some Nazis… well not quite. Visionary Robert Zemeckis’ World War II romantic spy thriller opened on Black Friday of 2016, which may or may not compromise its potential commercial success in the long run. Set on the backdrop of the 1940’s, Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard play two spies at the height of tensions in the Second World War. At first, Max and Marise pretend to be married, but after falling in love, they actually become husband and wife. Max is then informed by his superiors that  his wife might be a German spy. If she’s innocent, they will forget it ever happened. But if their suspicions are true, then Max has to kill her to prove his loyalty to the Allies. But that doesn’t happen until at least halfway through the movie. The first half of Allied focuses on their romance and falling in love. That’s all fine and dandy, I don’t have a problem with that. But the fact that the film was primarily marketed as an intense spy thriller in World War II made the romantic aspect of the plot somewhat jarring at first. Thankfully, the two leads share great chemistry throughout the entirety of the film. Marion Cotillard, in particular, shines as the mysterious wife. She has the build and look of a woman who belongs in a period piece, and the French actress has yet to give a dull performance in her career. Costar Brad Pitt is fine as the conflicted main protagonist. Though if we’re being honest, it felt as if he was phoning it in for a majority of the time. They could have cast a myriad of other actors for the role, and I don’t think it would have been worse for the wear. And of course, this being a Robert Zemeckis production, the film looks gorgeous for all of its 124 minute-long runtime. Whether it’s an action set piece or a quieter dramatic moment, the visuals are a joy to look at. The cinematography by Don Burgess brings out vibrant colors that delightfully contrast the bleak reality of World War II. The story also reminded me of the Humphrey Bogart classic, Casablanca. A North American man falls for a young woman who he probably shouldn’t care about, and originates from the opposite side of the world in the middle of a bloody World War. But unlike that 1940’s masterpiece, Allied suffers from very uneven pacing. The script penned by Steve Knight makes various jumps forward in time to signify the relationship between Max and Marise. But in the latter half of the movie, when Max is investigating his wife, it suddenly begins grinding over a single weekend. This slower burn feels appropriate for the thriller aspect of the story, but didn’t flow well with the previous hour. But I will say that the thriller/action sequences are quite exciting when they happen. The film utilizes its R-rating to showcase gushes of blood from gunfights and intense close quarters combat. One of the first scenes involves Max ambushing a Nazi officer by choking him to death. The shock and sudden nature caused me to jump from my seat in the movie theatre, a litmus test to see if a thriller is effective on me. The supporting cast includes character actors like Jared Harris, Lizz Caplan, August Diehl, Anton Lesser, and Mathew Goode as players in this figurative game of chess between an American soldier and his wife who could possibly be a traitor. It’s a simple and interesting premise, just slightly mis-marketed for the actual content. Allied is an enjoyable, yet uneven spy thriller to wedge out in the crowded and overly popular canvas of World War II. Robert Zemeckis’ trademark visual style and the performances help to  elevate the film, but not enough to its potential as a wartime epic. It is a fun date movie to see with your boyfriend or girlfriend over the weekend matinee. That is, of course, assuming that neither of you are sent to the hospital thanks to the hell that is Black Friday.

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