‘Allied’ (2016) – 6.5/10


I was so excited to see this film. Ever since I saw the advert 4 months ago, it left chills running down my spine. I have not seen a good action thriller in a while, and was hoping that ‘Allied’ would deliver this. This is the new film directed by Robert Zemeckis (the genius behind the ‘Back to the Future’ (1985) franchise), which is written and produced by Steven Knight (who has worked on the extremely popular series ‘Peaky Blinders’ (2013 – present)). Although I found this film entertaining, sadly it did not satisfy the itch I wanted scratching in terms of anticipation that had been gradually building in my mind.

‘Allied’ is set during WWII, when a Canadian intelligence officer named Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) is station in Casablanca with Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), a French Resistance fighter. They are on a deadly mission behind enemy lines, and have been recruited to kill a German Ambassador. Consequently, the pair pose as a married couple, but grow close (breaking protocol as they believe they will die). However, as the mission is successful, they reunite and marry in London, settling down in Hampstead. Nonetheless, their relationship and new family life are tested by the pressures of the war, when a year later Max learns that Marianne is suspected of being a German spy – so must determine whether she is or not, and if so kill her or face being killed himself.

As mentioned above, I was expecting this film to be an action thriller, revolving around the characters of Max and Marianne, a couple in love fighting perceived enemies together. I was expecting this movie to draw parallels with ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’ (2005), an action thriller staring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who are a couple of married assassins, who are hired to kill each other.  However, I was thrown off track with this notion when the actual film kicked in.

I felt that the adverts for ‘Allied’ were extremely misleading. Scenes were cut together in a way that made it seem like the film was going to be intense and dramatic, when in fact it was the opposite. To be honest, I felt that the film was rather slow. Nonetheless, this was one of the elements I actually liked about the film. I liked how drawn out certain scenes were. Extended scenes, like the couple sat on the rooftop of an apartment block in Casablanca, enabled the spectacular sets to be seen in their full beauty. Likewise, the build up of the couple pretending to be married is very well acted out. I like the stilted dialogue, and overall awkwardness that the couple have to overcome in order to work together. However, the reason I thought that the adverts were misleading was because there was only 1 true action scene, the rest of the movie was about Max trying to figure out whether Marianne is a spy – which was not developed in a gripping way, as it was not fast-paced enough, and instead was tinged with too much sentiment. Similarly, the ending of the film could have been neatened up, which would have made the plot more concise and concluded the film on a more punchy note.

I felt that the film was a little too twee. This is possibly because the film is set in 1942, and is supposed to evoke nostalgia or at least an understanding of how this era was (for those not born in this period). However, it made the film sickly and scenes like the birth of the couples baby hard to stomach. The entire movement of this scene is so ‘Hollywood’ (in the worst possible way). It felt too staged, ran together too smoothly, and so unrealistic that it let down the classiness of the previous scenes of the film. Similarly, I was not a big fan of the passage of time scenes, which showed how the family had settled into life in Hampstead – I thought that this could have been toned down a little and done in a more tasteful way (which would have tied the film together better). That being said, I thought that the score of the film, which was composed by Alan Silvestri (who has worked on films like  ‘The Polar Express’ (2004) and ‘A Christmas Carol’ (2009)) was lovely, and complimented the 1940s setting perfectly.

The strong leads definitely carried this film. Had the acting not been as flawless (other than Pitt’s poor ‘Quebec’ French accent, which apparently was intended for his role), then this film would have scored much less with me. I just wish that the film had been more condensed, and had more of an edge to it (rather than being diluted by emotion and sentiment that did not work). I almost feel like I was miss sold a product via the advert, and so left the cinema unsatisfied by what I had seen… I felt like the film was trying to build up to a crescendo, but never hit the high notes. It lacked depth, which it had in certain places (like the dialogue at the beginning of the film) but by the end this was diluted by the plot running away with itself. Had the film not had such strong leads, and had the settings not blown my breath away, I would have been disappointed by this film. Nonetheless, it is worth seeing at the cinema (to take it in as a spectacle), but in all honesty, I don’t think I could sit through it again. It is too long (which is nice on a first view) and does not get to the point in a way I hoped it would.



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