Spy thrillers are fun. Mystery, intrigue, romance, danger. They’re tailor-made for cinema. The problem is that the genre has become so prevalent and popular that coming up with something new is difficult. “Allied” suffers from the malaise of good intentions and lackluster themes. It’s a whole film of been there, done that, with multiple homages to previous works competing against each other.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Steven Knight, “Allied” is the story of Canadian spy Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) who rendezvous with French resistance fighter Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard) in Morocco during World War II. Together, they work to assassinate the Nazi ambassador, Hobar (August Diehl). Posing as a married couple Marianne advances romantically to Max, who replies that spies who sleep together fail. Marianne counters that it’s not the sex that makes spies fail, but falling in love. At the conclusion of their mission, they get married and try to live a normal life, but under the pretenses of deception, can they ever truly trust each other?
Mixing the grandeur of films like “Casablanca” with the sexiness of James Bond and the intrigue of a John le Carré novel, the film doesn’t feel unified. It’s too much going on at once. Brad Pitt is an odd choice for the role of Max. Perhaps a younger spy, just learning the ropes, would have served the story better with an experienced femme fatale as his partner.
The film does have some exciting action sequences, but they are few and far between, the majority of screen time devoted to a love story that we’ve seen before. There’s nothing that really makes the film stand out and the result is a pretty forgettable affair despite some good work from Ms. Cotillard.