Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard disappoints in an all-around hit and miss thriller
You know when you have two brilliant ideas but just can’t pick one? Yes? Well, Robert Zemeckis feels your pain. On the one hand, Zemeckis wants to tell a story about two agents who fall in love with each other and on the contrary, he intends to tell a story about a doubtful relationship. Although, both are great ideas and none of them get the attention they fully deserve.
During WWII, an agent by the name of Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) gets set up with a beautiful French girl named Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard). Both of the missions are clear – to take down a German official. At first, they both act as husband and wife before beginning to fall in love.
Just when things look to be in the right direction, Max gets a phone call from his superior. This call is an important one as they reveal to him that suspicion has risen that his loving wife may actually be a German spy. If this is proven to be true, Max will have no other choice but to kill her himself.
Allied has its moments of pure joy, and that is exactly why it is hard to forgive its flaws. When moments of pure dread and suspense happen, the movie feels fresh. Each character is pinned against each other, and the anxiety is ready to rise. However, the tone constantly changes, and it does it always do it with ease. The change to romance halts the movie without ever giving Pitt and Cotillard’s characters some depth.
Speaking of Pitt and Cotillard, they both look bored and uninspired throughout the film. Pitt’s quiet voice down to Earth style of acting only comes off as boring. Cotillard, while better, does not fully commit to her intelligent livelier character. What is weirder is that the changes in their characters are abrupt and it does not work. Allied‘s shift in tones proves a challenge for both actors.
On written paper, Allied should work except that everything that should work about a spy thriller fails. A bright spot is that of the accurate depiction of the aesthetic of the era. Joanna Johnston’s (Lincoln) costume designs are a thing of beauty, capturing both the vintage and the vibrancy of the period. What everyone loves about the era of the war is stuffed in the movie. However, the style is all that Allied has. Screenwriter Steven Knight (Locke) failed to create the ticking bomb effect that is so important in a thriller. Also, Knight fails to create a compelling love story between both uninspired actors.
It is ironic that even something as nerve wracking as war cannot offer a bit of suspense to Allied. Pitt and Cotillard cannot find the dazzling chemistry that is needed to compensate for the movie’s many flaws. Vaguely similar to The Light Between Oceans, both actors are stuck in a hollow romance thriller that is all style and no substance.