This is the third old fashioned Hollywood movie I’ve seen this month. Hacksaw Ridge was an old fashioned Army movie with modern day violence. Rules Don’t Apply was an old fashioned Hollywood love story and Allied is an old fashioned spy movie. It’s like all three directors got the itch to pay homage to their favorite types of movies, but none of them were good. Allied it doesn’t feel nostalgic. It just feels outdated.
Max (Brad Pitt) and Marianne (Marion Cotillard) pose as husband and wife on a WWII mission in Casablanca. They fall in love for real and start a family in London. Now with a daughter, Max learns that the Allies suspect his wife is a spy. Will he choose his family or his country?
Except for some epic moments of action, Allied could very well have been made at the same time as Casablanca. They couldn’t have had a plane crash outside a window or a bloody gunfight in Hays Code Hollywood but they could have done the intimate story of a marriage tested by suspicion.
The question is, why make an intimate World War II movie now? If you love Golden Age WWII movies I guess this is your dream film, the way The Expendables is my dream throwback to ‘80s action or The Force Awakens could be someone’s dream Star Wars movie. What’s missing is director Robert Zemeckis fails to convey what he loves so much about the genre. He just reproduces it adequately.
Allied fails to milk the paranoia Max feels to its full effect. We see his attitude change for a few scenes, because no matter how much he believes in Marianne, a part of him has to question. They only share a few scenes together under those circumstances, and just as quickly, a random character raises suspicion in Max for his bosses.
And is this crushing? I didn’t feel like Max and Marianne had some great love. They’re just the stars of the movie and they’re both gorgeous, so we’re supposed to assume they’re in love. Their love scenes are passionate and Pitt and Cotillard definitely have chemistry. I did enjoy how they do a cliche movie scene where she gives him a blow job while he’s on the phone, only he’s on the phone having to take military orders. So that’s new.
Marianne gives birth during an air raid but it’s not as harrowing as it sounds. The main characters and wetnurses seemed to find the perfect safe spot in the middle of the bombing. Not that I expect the baby’s life to be endangered, but all the ability to put the actors in these intense situations somehow fails to capture intensity.
There’s also a good chance that the film’s biggest special effect is to de-age Brad Pitt, like Michael Douglas in Ant-Man, for the entire movie. This effect is distracting because Pitt looks glassy, like one of the characters in one of Zemeckis’s animated movies. The technology is not there yet to have a main character digitally rendered. If this wasn’t a visual effect, than what was wrong with the makeup and lighting on Brad Pitt?
Allied is more disappointing for the talent involved. If it weren’t Zemeckis, Pitt and Cotillard it may seem impressive that some other filmmakers captured classic World War II cinema. But since the talent behind Allied have all created such landmark incredible cinema, Allied feels like a setback to them.