Just in time for the holidays comes a tale for the whole family, complete with romance, action, and even a little fascism! Well, maybe not the whole family, but Allied will certainly please those who like a little adventure mixed into their love stories.
Allied is really two movies in one. The first is a war-time espionage flick, set in Casablanca of all places. Marianne (Marion Cotillard) and Max (Brad Pitt) are placed into a faux-marriage in furtherance of a plot to the hurt the Nazi cause. Their mating dance as they get to know one another (without letting anyone know they’ve never actually met, of course) is elegant and intriguing.
As a spy movie, it really works. There’s a certain comfort in watching covert operatives do their work. Certain rules must be followed. Caution is part of every breath. Someone is always watching. The romance is melded perfectly within this world of high danger. The couple’s culminating love scene happens in a car buffeted by the mother of all sandstorms. A perfect Moroccan scene.
The second half of Allied moves in a completely different direction. Having finished their work in Africa, the two lovebirds make their way to Britain for a course of bombs and homemaking. Literally, the birth of the couple’s child happens in the middle of a blitz, as if labor and delivery aren’t stressful enough as it is.
From there, Max and Marianne build a life, all while he continues to help the war effort. She takes to married life just fine, and supporting performances by Lizzy Caplan as Max’s sister and Jared Harris as his senior officer help create an engaging world in the middle of war-torn England.
This domestic bliss is short lived, however, as the film takes a turn into crosses and double-crosses. While the tension inside this storyline certainly moves things forward, it is strangely less appealing than that which comes before. The human connection and striving beyond one’s circumstances that were the building blocks of the opening narrative get thrown to the wayside in search of a not-very-thrilling thriller.
It all wraps up well enough, but Allied could have been so much more. Cotillard and Pitt are stars, and they certainly deliver the goods for much of the film, but the premise promised more than the finished product could ultimately deliver.