By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
This may forever be known as Homewrecker: The Movie, but let’s go ahead and try and rate this film on its own merits, eh?
Unrelated picture of Marion Cotillard and her husband, Mssr. Notbradpitt.
Allied tells the very Casablanqy tale of two attractive resistance fighters (Cotillard and a certain Bradley Pitt) tossed together in, er, Casablanca by fate and a mutual interest in killing some Natzis. A bunch of dead Natzis later, and they elope to England. A year and a baby after that, and the British Secret Service has some unfortunate news for Mr. Pitt- they believe Cotillard is a German spy using a stolen identity, and if their weekend test proves it, he’s to kill her by his own hand, or be executed along with her.
Robert Zemeckis is as polished a Hollywood director as we have this side of Spielberg. Allied boasts great production values all around and slick cinematography from DP Don Burgess to capture the beautiful rooms, costumes, and ingenues. The Battle of Britain sequences in particular, with citizens cowering as flak and fighters streak across the night sky, are among the most arresting depictions of that event put to film, and the beginning action sequence in Casablanca is no slouch, either. Even the slightly too sudden sandstorm sex scene, with only the sound of the encroaching storm and the two lovers, shows incredible technical skill and budgetary support. The sound design in general is great, to the point the workmanlike score maybe could or even should have been dispensed with entirely. Just take a look at Alan Silvestri’s non-Zemeckis career.
Steven Knight’s screenplay takes a little bit of time to find its feet, but does so with gusto. It’s altogether to his credit that the later games of deception are far more riveting than earlier ones of sabotage and assassination. Plenty of credit is due to Pitt and Cotillard as well, of course. Both are at the top of their games, and really sell super-tricky parts. Some moments of emotion are Oscar reel-caliber, as Pitt underplays brilliantly, and Knight’s plot gives them plenty to work with as Pitt runs the gamut of confidence and doubt and Cotillard must equally support both possibilities while retaining our sympathy. Their connection grows richer as the Hitcockian perils and sleights mount and mount- as well executed as the thriller aspect is, it’s their romance that ultimately socks you in the gut.
As is latter-day Zemeckis’ due, there’s some flat, unconvincing CGI in the beginning. Pitt has a Jeff Bridges in Tron thing going on for no discerable reason at first, and the fake, sweeping sand dunes would be fine if they in any way shape or form resembled the landscape actually around Casablanca.
Also, perhaps there’s a dearth of sentiment to start (they’re both hot, sure, but don’t really sell the head over heels tumble required to get them together for later) and too much to end (no comment, but there’s at least five minutes too much movie to wrap up).
Allied is an old-fashioned World War II romantic epic thriller… wait, how many of those were there? In any case, it’s classic and modern at once, with a story you’ll find yourself plenty invested in by the end.
Allied (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for mirrors
Take a Drink: “Medicine Hat”
Take a Drink: “Je t’aime” or “I love you”
Take a Drink: for photographs
Do a Shot: whenever Brad Pitt’s in a cockpitt (… cockpitt?)
Do a Shot: for rat-like interrogators