By Troi Watts
Recently, I’ve been trying to branch out and see movies that I wouldn’t typically get excited for. Allied seemed like a good choice because I’m not the kind of person to watch historical dramas, especially in theaters. What really caught my attention was the fact that Marion Cotillard (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) and Brad Pitt (World War Z, Fight Club) were starring in it, and it looked like it was going to be an intense mystery. It was intense alright, but, unfortunately, not exactly exciting.
Allied is set in the middle of World War II: 1942. Max Vatan, an Allied intelligence officer, and Marianne Beauséjour, a French resistance fighter, are sent on a mission to assassinate a German ambassador in Casablanca. Whilst pretending to be husband and wife in order to gain access to their target, the two spies develop real feelings for each other. As they successfully complete their mission, Max asks Marianne to come to London with him and marry him for real; she accepts. One year later, the happy couple is living the simple (or as simple as wartimes can be) suburban life with their daughter, Anna. Everything is perfect, until Max’s superiors inform him that Marianne is believed to be a German spy, and not even the real Marianne Beauséjour. The Allied forces set a trap to determine if Marianne really is working for the enemy, giving Max only a weekend to discover the truth. Is Marianne a double agent? Was their whole marriage a lie in order to spy on the Allied forces? All is revealed in the end.
The big mystery of whether or not Marianne, portrayed by Marion Cotillard, is a German spy is played out very well in Allied. I could not pick a side because every time I thought I had it figured out, new information was revealed. Timing seems to have been planned out very carefully for this exact reason. In the end, I had to wait for her to definitively tell me the truth. I’ll just say this: it was a satisfying answer.
The acting in Allied also aids in keeping the mystery going. Marion Cotillard doesn’t give any hint of Marianne’s secrets. Her actions and emotions come through so believably that I wouldn’t be surprised if Cotillard’s real self is similar to Beauséjour’s. Brad Pitt seems to have a great understanding of Max Vatan’s feelings as well. His frustration with this horrible situation pulls audiences in and forces them to join in with that frustration. You just want to help him and tell him everything will be alright, but you can’t.
One of the biggest problems in the movie, however, is the fact that there isn’t much action. The beginning, with the assassination mission, held the most exciting, spy-like events in the entire movie. There is gunplay, death, and a few explosions, but nothing like modern action movies typically have. Writer Steven Knight missed a perfect opportunity to include a huge fight scene when Max encounters German troops while traveling to France for some answers. Max and his Resistance Fighter friends manage to kill all of the troops without any sort of fight from them. The lack of action here also feels unrealistic, hurting the movie’s overall believability. I felt misled, since Allied is labeled as an “action-drama-romance,” and not just a drama.
POSSIBLE SPOILER AHEAD
The ending of Allied is partially satisfying, but has a few problems. We finally find out the truth about Marianne and have to watch Max deal with it. He decides to flee London with Marianne and their daughter using a military airplane (which he can pilot because he’s a wingman for the Allied forces, also). You just know, you feel it in your gut, that this isn’t going to work. It doesn’t seem to make much sense. The airplane is on a military base, and the Allied forces are about to learn the truth too. There’s no way they wouldn’t notice a highly recognized Allied soldier taking off with his wife and child. Therefore, I was stuck feeling like Max was being stupid, which is not something you want to think about a main character. So, it all seems pointless because the movie has made you so invested in this love story that you really want them to escape and live happily ever after, but they can’t because Max’s escape plan is dumb and can’t work.
END OF SPOILER
Overall, Allied falls on its face due to a few glaring problems. A movie shouldn’t be called an “action movie” if it doesn’t really have action in it and every movie needs to have a solid ending in order to be worth it. In my opinion, wait and rent Allied when it comes out. Don’t waste your time and money on a movie that’s only half-good.