What a handsome empty shell of a movie Allied is. Despite the star power of Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard – and the rumors swirling about them off camera – their scenes together fail to ignite even a glimmer of a spark. And for a movie that dearly wishes to evoke the classic chemistry of Bogie and Bergman in Casablanca, that’s not a good thing. Director Robert Zemeckis gets in some action – Allied is set during World War II and Pitt and Cotillard are cast as assassins – but romantically, the film is dour and bloodless. Screenwriter Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises) can shove in sex scenes left and right, including one in a car during a sandstorm, but he can’t write in the heat.
Pitt plays Max Vatan, a Quebecois agent working for British special operations. His new assignment is to kill a high-ranking German officer. So off he goes, parachuting into Morocco and so very dashing, for a rendezvous in Casablanca (there’s that name again) with Marianne Beauséjour (Cotillard), a French Resistance worker who will pretend to be his wife.
As things happen, especially in Hollywood, a fake marriage becomes a real one. And soon Max and Marianne are living in London and having a baby during an air raid – quite the visual. The plot kicks in when Max is told that his wife is possibly a spy. If so, he’s to kill her on the spot. That would be a shame since Pitt, who can be real good when he lets some mischief into a performance (see Inglourious Basterds) mostly just poses this time in his pretty uniforms and suits. That leaves the acting to Cotillard, who even in this artificial house of cards manages to suggest a woman of heart and probing mind.
I won’t give away how the story ends, but if you can’t figure it out then Allied must be your first movie. Sorry it had to be this one. Go home and stream Casablanca where the problems of lovers really do amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.