Film Review: ALLIED (UK/USA 2016) ****

allied_movie_poster.jpgDirector: Robert Zemeckis

Writer: Steven Knight

Stars: Brad Pitt, Vincent Ebrahim, Xavier De Guillebon, Marion Cotillard

Review by Gilbert Seah

The World War II romance thriller, ALLIED feels like the old Hollywood war romances like CASABLANCA, the kind that featured top Hollywood stars like Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Part of the reason is at the film’s start, the hero, Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) parachutes down to the Moroccan desert only to land make way to Casablanca where he meets his mission-assigned wife, Mairanne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard).

The story is set in 1942 North Africa. Canadian intelligence officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) meets French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) on a secret mission behind enemy lines. The couple reunites in London and get married, eventually having a daughter together. Their relationship is strong and normal but becomes threatened by the brink of war, as Vatan is presented with the possibility that Beausejour is a sleeper spy working for the Germans. Vatan is then placed under considerable pressure to kill Beausejour himself or to be executed for failing to obey orders. Convinced of her innocence, he sets out on a very dangerous mission to clear her name.

Zemeckis creates and maintains a solid tense atmosphere throughout the film. The few action sequences (the assassination of the German ambassador; the prison break) are executed efficiently without much ado, keeping in line that ALLIED is a suspense thriller and not an action flick. The romance between Pitt and Cotillard works. The love scene is executed with finesse and taste with the sexiness intact. The couple make love in the car, the scene ending with the sand storm outside the vehicle blurring the windows of the vehicle.

ALLIED is a star movie, no doubt about that. The film would be so much less effective if Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard were replaced with lesser known actors, just as CASABLANCA cannot be envisioned without Bogart and Bergman. British actor, handsome Matthew Goode is hardly recognizable in the role of Guy Sangster, whose face is scarred by the war. The film has a gay slant with the addition of Max’s lesbian sister, Bridget (Lizzy Caplan) who in one ironic scene is asked by soldiers as a request to kiss her female companion.

For all the film’s seriousness, Zemeckis adds in some very wry humour, especially in the scene where Max is confronted with orders to kill Beausejour.

Zemickis makes sure these questions remains on the mind of every member of the audience: Is Beausejour really a German spy? If she is, would Max complete his duty and kill her? Despite the obvious answers to the two questions, Zemeckis pulls a good twist to the story at the end.

ALLIED proves once again the talent of director Zemeckis. He has proven his mettle with films of different genres like the BACK TO THE FUTURE films, THE POLAR EXPRESS, WHO FARMED ROGER RABBIT and of course, FORREST GUMP. Allied adds another success to his list.


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