Stuck in the middle with you...

Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.

Director Robert Zemeckis, known for everything from Forrest Gump to the Back To The Future series of films, and writer Steven Knight (Eastern Promises) team up, to bring us the World War II espionage thriller Allied..

Slowly ascending to Earth akin to a weightless feather drifting upon the breeze, Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) a Canadian Wingman cum British spy, is serenely infiltrating the French Moroccan territory - currently under the firm grip of Axis hands - during the global conflict of World War II.

Once out of the desert and brushing off its remnants from his person, the mission becomes clear, to rendezvous with his beautiful French counterpart Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard) under the guise of man and wife, with the aim to successfully blend in with the local populace of Casablanca and cement their cover for the assassination plot to come.

After uniting with his faux-wife at a local restaurant, the chemistry is palpable, and the new associates around them oblivious to the ulterior motives afoot, with the two spies meandering around each other, gauging one another’s true intentions - which is clearly an uphill climb for two professional liars. But pushing aside any feelings bubbling beneath the surface, the two get to the task at hand in infiltrating a Nazi ballroom dinner by first acquiring an invitation.

With the deadly deed accomplished, and the pair now on the run, Max proposes to Marianne, inviting her to start a new life with him in England. And just a year later, the pair are married with a young daughter, but the spy division confides in Max that they suspect his new wife may actually be a German spy. Is she a spy? Or is the entire thing a facade, a test, by Max’s commanders for a possible new job?

The spy genre is quite the crowded one, with everything from slow burn dramas such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to more action oriented fare with the Bourne and iconic James Bond series.

Allied fits closer to the former in that spectrum, a slow burn drama of lies, deceit and unravelling of an obvious truth that is interspersed with some intense, adrenaline-fuelled and much needed action to break up the pace.

At its heart though, Allied is a romantic drama, following the relationship between Max and Marianne set against a backdrop of two monolithic giants and the effect of the two warring powers upon their lives. With the intensity of the blitz rearing its head each night just to remind them the harsh reality of their world; it’s highly effective and well executed, though to be expected from a veteran filmmaker such as Robert Zemeckis. A filmmaker that has had quite the storied career, directing some of the best films to ever grace the cinematic medium, and whilst Allied has the potential to be one of his best, it sadly falls short in the script department.

Allied - (Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Lizzy Caplan, Matthew Goode and Simon McBurney)

The question that Allied asks has an obvious answer, and therein lies its greatest flaw. With a script far too straightforward for its own good, that needed much more layering to instill the viewer with the question and keeping them on tenterhooks, wondering till the very end. Sadly the answer is obvious, so any revelation to the effect is powerless, but the emotional aspect Allied exudes is still riveting viewing - if at times highly cliched - with a conclusion that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

But I feel that screenwriter Steven Knight missed a trick in writing Allied, to not be far more duplicitous with not only the genre he finds himself in, but the character of Marianne and a performer like Marion Cotillard, who really is the perfect fit for that kind of role.

Allied is a technically solid slow burn drama, that offers a slight mix of everything to cover every demographic, from moments of spontaneous action to a romantic throughline at its heart.

Though sadly Allied is a little too straightforward in its approach to reach the annals of the greats within the genre offering nothing not seen many times before, but if you’re looking for a film this weekend that will suit both you and a partner, then Allied fits the bill.

  • Review by
    David Robinson

    Twitter: @5ypher

    Posted on
    24th November 2016

  • 3 Out of 5 Stars
  • Too straightforward

    Cliché romance in parts

  • Solid film making

    Moments of action

    Emotional conclusion

Film Info

Allied Allied
Rating: 15
Release Date: 25th November
Runtime: 2 hr 4 mins
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Lizzy Caplan, Simon McBurney & Matthew Goode

  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  • Child 44
  • Bridge of Spies

No, the spurts of action are violence-filled.

For the limited French dialog spoken by Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard acted as his tutor.

The inspirations for the film's costumes were Casablanca (1942) and Now, Voyager (1942), where the costumes combined both simplicity and beauty.