Movie review: A World War II spy tale in ‘Allied’
–There have been a lot of movies set in or around World War II. It’s a pivotal time in United State history, as well as the history of many nations. And no matter how many different stories are told around those events, filmmakers still find ways to make it fresh and interesting.
That’s true of “Allied,” which takes place during the war and focuses on a pair of spies who meet, complete a mission and fall in love in Casablanca before starting a life together in Africa. Brad Pitt and Marion Cottilard take the lead roles and do a beautiful job of portraying the story.
Though the trailer gives away the central conflict in the drama, and it’s pretty obvious which way the story is going to go, it’s the craft and care of the leads and the director, Robert Zemeckis, that makes the story pop.
The film picks up in 1942 in Casablanca, as a Canadian airman working for British intelligence, Max Vatan (Pitt), is dropped in to complete a mission with a French spy, Marianne Beauséjour (Cotillard). They pose as husband and wife and are tasked with eliminating a high-ranking German official.
The mission is complicated and difficult, and it seems unlikely that Max and Marianne will emerge unscathed. Though they try to keep it professional, they find themselves falling in love. When they complete the mission and both survive and escape, Max asks Marianne to come to England and be his wife.
She agrees, and after clearing background checks, she makes it to London. They marry and have a young daughter, all in the midst of the ongoing war. They are happy and living their life despite the turmoil around them.
But that changes when Max is told by higher ups that his wife may, in fact, be a German spy. He is unwilling to accept that, but is told to sit tight and wait 72 hours to see if it can be proven. If it is, Max is ordered to kill her himself.
Unable to put the thought out of his mind, Max begins an investigation of his own in the hopes of clearing his wife’s name.
Zemeckis is no stranger to crafting powerful dramas, especially ones that are period-specific. He famously directed “Forrest Gump,” which won Best Picture in 1994. And he deftly handles this story, too.
If you’ve seen the trailers, you know where “Allied” is going. And if you’re watching the film, you have a fairly good idea what Max’s investigation is going to yield. But that doesn’t matter. By then you’re hooked to the story, the characters and the artful way it’s being told. That’s a credit to Zemeckis in his adaptation of the script from Steven Knight.
It’s also a credit to the lead performers. Pitt and Cotillard have good onscreen chemistry and they sink into their roles well. They have some complicated scenes to play, but they play them well in building up this story.
I liked the look of the film, too, which captures the period in a couple radically different locations. It’s a movie that builds its world in a compelling fashion that pulls you in, even if the story beats aren’t really a surprise.
“Allied” is a well-made and compelling film. It’s also an enjoyable film and one worth checking out.
“Allied” has been rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for violence, some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use. Enter with caution.