Max (Brad Pitt) and Marianne (Marion Cotillard) meet is Casablanca in 1942, when they are tasked with presenting as a couple as cover for a plot to assassinate the German Ambassador. Later, when Max returns to London to help with the war effort from behind a desk, he brings Marianne with him and the two marry. After the two have a child together, Max is given some devastating news; there is evidence to suggest that Marianne is a German spy.
Brad Pitt leads the cast as Max, a fighter pilot turned spy in Allied, and although he is rather stiff in the role, it feels as though this was a choice made for the character, rather than a lack of ability or commitment from the actor. Marion Cotillard makes Marianne a ray of light throughout the whole film, and her performance as a diligent spy turned mother and housewife is strong, always keeping the audience guessing as to the character’s true allegiances. The rest of the cast features Jared Harris, Simon McBurney, Sally Messham and Lizzy Caplan, who is sadly underused.
Steven Knight’s screenplay is based on a story he was told while travelling the US in his twenties, and it has taken many years to get to the big screen. The story is an engaging one, although there are times when the dialogue, in trying to create mystery, simply creates questions that the film cannot answer, or gives too much away. The film begins to fall apart in the final act, when the story begins to feel drawn out and slightly ridiculous, as Max’s suspicions begin to get the better of him, and make him act rashly. There is also a hint of a lesbian relationship in the film, which people turn a blind eye to since war is all around them, and this feels as though it would have made for a more curious and engaging film.
As director, Robert Zemeckis obviously has fun with the period setting of the film, and the time spent in Casablanca is the strongest part of Allied. It is when the story moves to London that the pacing suddenly drops, and although Marion Cotillard is still lovely as Marian, her luminosity in the role cannot keep the film moving forward. The final half hour begins to border on the ridiculous, and makes the film feel as though it is grinding to a halt. Robert Zemeckis is prolific at the moment, and there are times when Allied works incredibly well, but the energy of the film drops, and Zemeckis’ skill at pacing his previous films is not evident here.
In all, Allied is an interesting story that is let down by its final act, which is over the top, and undermines the emotion and tension built up through the rest of the film. Brad Pitt is fine as Max, but it is Marion Cotillard who steals the show in this oddly paced and slightly ridiculous story.