Allied movie full length review - Allied is Very Beautiful and Wholly Entertaining but a Little Too Ambitious
I was pretty excited for Allied even when the mixed reviews started coming out.
The premise was entertaining (a World War 2 spy thriller dealing with a very intimate betrayal) and they got 2 of the biggest actors/actresses working right now in Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. Add in Robert Zemeckis (The Walk, Flight) behind the camera and that made for an interesting combination. Then you sprinkle in some big budget effects and I was sold completely. There haven't been many runaway Oscar contenders yet so I thought maybe this was being positioned for that kind of run. After seeing it, I don't think it's going to achieve those aspirations even though this movie is clearly swinging for the fences.
*Minor Spoilers Ahead* Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) is a Canadian intelligence officer that parachutes into French Morocco during World War 2. His goal is to rendezvous with a local contact in the French Resistance and his mission is to assassinate the German Ambassador. After being picked up and driven to Casablanca, he meets up with her at a local nightclub. She's bubbly and affectionate as even though they have never met, they're supposed to be man and wife. After some quick introductions, they leave the club and actually introduce themselves to each other. They get along fine, Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard) is a perfectionist and has spent time working her way into being friends with the right people so they can get close to their target. Max has read up on Marianne but she's unwilling to answer any questions about her past. They start to feel each other out and by the end of the night they've become familiar enough to proceed with the plan for the attempted assassination in 10 days.
The first thing that you notice in Allied is how the movie wants to transport you back into 1940s. It's easy to be impressed with how cool the movie looks, the wardrobe and the set design are beautiful. I really like watching period pieces for that sense of escape. The CGI in the movie looks good at points like the ground views on the aerial battles but sub par in others like at the beginning when Brad Pitt is parachuting in. Some people would be quick to criticize Allied for this but it is a gorgeous looking movie for the most part and you can climb into this time in history that much easier.
Even though I enjoyed Allied for the most part, I do feel like that the advertising for it was misleading. This movie can be easily divided into 2 halves. The second half is the spy thriller that you see in the trailers, the first half is completely different though. It's more of a romantic drama. Both of these parts work but I found the spy thriller part to be far more interesting. The ingredients are there with 2 A-list actors, the setting is beautiful and the story is suitably epic. But I still had a hard time getting invested. I didn't think there was much chemistry between Marion and Brad and although I was always engaged in Allied, it wasn't the whole package it was trying to be.
I was just pretty critical of the first part of Allied but I want to also get across when the angle of Marianne possibly being a Nazi spy gets introduced, the movie becomes super intense. You can feel the tension in every scene and the movie does a great job disguising whether Marianne is truly guilty. They feed you enough information that it could go either way. There's also some tight and brutal action sequences throughout the movie. It all builds to an ending that completely caught me off guard and I applaud it for that. This movie is old-fashioned in the way that it touches so many different genres at once and although I'm willing to say that while some were done better than others, when the movie works, it really works well.
When I talk about the acting, it's kind of hard to explain how I thought things turned out. Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard are both great actors and I think they do good work individually here but I still think they didn't sell the intimacy of their relationship. They're supposed to be willing to die for each other and I found the scenes where they were supposed to be falling in love to be stilted and a little robotic. I thought Jared Harris and Lizzy Caplan were good in their supporting roles but the movie is carried by Brad and Marion. They are solid but just not great together.
You can feel the ambition behind this movie when you watch Allied. There seemed to be a concerted effort to capture the feel of older sweeping epics. I think that this contributed to the pacing problems in the movie and why there was such a drastic shift when Max and Marianne got back to England. It's a small complaint but I think this movie could have used a tighter edit. Conversely, that might have cost it some of the old school charm it was going for, so there would have been a trade-off. Anyway I'm closer to giving Allied a 7.5/10 but because I thought the second half was so strong, I'll round up and give it an 8/10.