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New Release Review - ALLIED

An RAF officer learns his wife may be a Nazi spy.






Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Lizzy Caplan, Charlotte Hope, Simon McBurney, Matthew Goode



Zemeckis' previous movie, The Walk, was close to insufferable for most of its running time, saved in part by a knockout final act. The reverse applies to Allied, an exciting 30 minute war movie followed by a dull 90 minute one.



Ask war veterans to sum up their experience and most will reply with a variation on the theme of long stretches of boredom punctuated by the odd burst of action. Such a description applies perfectly to Robert Zemeckis' latest, WWII spy thriller Allied, which boasts a couple of standout set-pieces but is mostly a plodding thriller that fails to engage.

Zemeckis' previous movie, The Walk, was close to insufferable for most of its running time, saved in part by a knockout final act. The reverse applies to Allied, an exciting 30 minute war movie followed by a dull 90 minute one.


That opening act introduces us to Brad Pitt's Max Vatan, a Canadian airman working as a spy for the RAF. Due to his ability to speak French, albeit in an unconvincing accent, he's parachuted into French Morocco where he hooks up with renowned French resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard). Posing as man and wife, the two embark on a dangerous mission to assassinate the German ambassador.

Zemeckis and screenwriter Steven Knight, whose script is based on incidents in his own family history, suck us in with a very old-fashioned romantic war thriller, but once Max and Marianne complete their mission and become man and wife in London, a new plot takes over, and it's one Zemeckis seems a lot less interested in.


Max is informed by his superiors in British Intelligence that they believe Marianne is a Nazi spy. It seems highly improbable that they would inform him of such knowledge, given they confess to not being entirely sure if Max can be trusted himself. A far from foolproof plan to determine Marianne's guilt is set in motion, with Max receiving a phone call and scribbling down a message for his wife to see. Should the message be intercepted, Marianne will be found guilty, and must be executed by Max himself. The unlikely assumption that Max would write down the correct message is never explained.

We're told Max will learn the truth on Monday, but we're never told how far away Monday actually is, which saps away much of the potential for ticking clock tension. I got the impression Max was being given a weekend to sweat it out, but the plot drags on for what seems like a week or two.


Zemeckis fails to generate any suspense in the interactions between Max and Marianne, with the pair spending too much time away from each other as Max conducts a secret investigation of his own. Perhaps he should have studied Hitchcock's 1941 classic of paranoid marital strife, Suspicion, in which Joan Fontaine suspects hubby Cary Grant is out to off her. It's the sort of classic romantic thriller Zemeckis is paying tribute to here, but Allied is a poor digital facsimile of such celluloid gems.

Allied is in cinemas November 25th.





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