Review: Allied

Last Updated on July 31, 2021

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PLOT: A Canadian spy (Brad Pitt) working for the British at the peak of WW2, is parachuted behind enemy lines to complete a deadly mission. He quickly falls for his French Resistance contact (Marion Cotillard), even marrying her and bringing her back to Britain with him, only to be assigned to kill her when his spy masters determine she’s a German spy. Now, he must prove her innocence in order to save both of their lives.

REVIEW: I’m a sucker for a WW2 spy yarn. Some of my all-time favorite films revolve around WW2 espionage and deadly wartime missions, like THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, THE DIRTY DOZEN, THE GREAT ESCAPE, WHERE EAGLES DARE, and more. Suffice to say; when I heard Robert Zemeckis was teaming-up with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard to do a WW2 spy thriller/romance, with a script by Steven Knight (LOCKE) to boot, I was pretty excited.

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As such, I’m beyond depressed to say, ALLIED isn’t the prestige WW2 yarn the studio positioned it as, nor is it even a particularly good film. While it has the occasional flash of inspiration and some impressive set pieces, ALLIED is uneven and often cheesy, although thankfully if it never becomes too tough a slog or fails to entertain on a modest level.

What, on the surface, seemed to be ALLIED’s biggest asset proves to be its greatest liability. While stars don’t come any hotter than Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, their pairing fails to generate any heat. There’s next to no sexual tension between the two, and them, all of a sudden, being in-love and on the verge of getting married comes out of nowhere. As a result, when Pitt is informed by his not unsympathetic boss (the always great Jared Harris) that he must execute his wife, there’s no real drama or emotional heft, simply because you don’t buy them actually loving each other.

Of the two, Pitt is more responsible for the lack of chemistry. While usually a great actor, Pitt is stiffer than he’s been in years. While he looks cool in a sharp suit, and speaks pretty decent French (although as a Quebecer, he doesn’t even have a slight French Quebec accent as he’s accused of having throughout the film), Pitt is too stoic. I hate to compare them, but I couldn’t help but think of how someone like Tom Cruise would have nailed this part, bringing at least some palpable fear or desperation into the characterization of a man assigned to kill the woman he loves.

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Cotillard fares better in a more difficult part, as she’s supposed to be ambiguous. Throughout, we’re not supposed to know if she’s a spy or not. She looks beautiful and tries to be warm, but even she seems to be playing it in a stylized way, as if she’s in a forties studio film, as opposed to Pitt’s more modern style. Other cast members are mostly consigned to tiny parts, with Lizzy Caplan getting very little to do as Pitt’s LGTB sister (proudly out in 1943 London) , although Matthew Goode has one great scene as a horrifically scarred former associate of Pitt’s.

What keeps ALLIED at least modestly entertaining is the skill Zemeckis bring to the action scenes. The climax of the first mission, a massive shoot-out as a ball given by the Nazis, is impressive, and he gets the most out of his R-rating (although I question whether people did lines of cocaine at parties in Britain during the war, as shown later in the film). The CGI showing London being bombed by German planes is well done, as is a sequence where Pitt parachutes behind enemy lines to contact the resistance. It’s set pieces like these that make ALLIED at least passably good, but it could have been so much more.

It’s hard to figure out what exactly went wrong with ALLIED, as by the time the climax rolled around I wasn’t at all invested into the question of whether Cotillard is or isn’t a spy, despite Zemeckis’s attempts to sprinkle in some Hitchcockian suspense. It’s well directed, not too long, and lavishly produced. Yet, it never quite comes together. If you go in with your expectations in check, you may be fine with it, but don’t expect a major contender or even something close to Pitt’s other WW2 adventures, INGLORIOUS BASTERDS or FURY. It’s an okay film, but it should have been a great one.




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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.