by Toby Woollaston


Hrmph … Allied.  Its trailer smacked of a run-of-the-mill spy thriller. A Hollywood vehicle to transport its stars toward a seasonal pay check by means of a reliable director at the helm.  I’ve seen the likes of it before so I really wasn’t keen to see this film … but I’m glad I did.

Paramount’s formulaic approach was certainly never going to set the world alight, but Allied surprised me by its entertainment value alone. Directed by the very safe Robert Zemeckis (Castaway), with a cast of two stars that will certainly get bums on seats … against my better judgement, it appears that the studio got the balance just right.

Set during the Second World War, Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) is a Canadian intelligence officer. During a deadly mission behind enemy lines in Morocco he encounters his accomplice, a female French Resistance fighter named Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard). Their faux marriage (for the benefit of the mission) soon becomes a reality after they reunite in London later in the war.  However, when doubt is cast over Marianne’s loyalty to the Allied cause it prompts Max to question his own loyalties.

Sounds fairly dull, I know, but Steven Knight (Eastern Promises) has penned a script that is so watertight, Zemeckis could have used it for Tom Hank’s raft in Castaway. Yes, it’s a little on-the-nose in parts, but the provocative glamour reaches beyond its stars’ pulling-power and steals the show. Of course there are the film’s stars. Brad Pitt is, well, Brad Pitt – It’s difficult to be anything else when you are that famous and handsome (that man still has great hair). And Cotillard injects a ripe sense of intrigue and mystery to proceedings. But central to the film’s impetus is its desire to hearken back to the classic Hollywood studio films of yesteryear, where star power and glamour were reasons enough to see a film. Make no mistake, Allied is one of these films. It’s certainly not without its faults, and there are moments of over pronounced referential eye-winking at war-time classics such as Casablanca, but despite this Allied set me on a journey that arrested my critical faculties and had me believing the unbelievable; sacrificing realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment. Yes, it is impossibly glamorous and the sex scenes among the swirling sand-storms of Morocco felt a little forced, but I didn’t care. Hrmph … I wanted to dislike it, but it was just too much fun.

Star rating: 4 out of 5

See the published review here