It’s 1942 and Wing Commander Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) has arrived in French Morocco to meet Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), a high ranking member of the French Resistance who will impersonate his wife and assist in the assassination of the German ambassador.
This sham marriage quickly becomes the real deal following a steamy romp in a car during a desert sandstorm (during which the camera endlessly circles them like a voyeuristic vulture). Then it’s back to London to set up house and welcome the birth of their daughter, who arrives dramatically during an air raid. But marriages made in the field seldom work, according to Max’s superior (Jared Harris), and he quickly discovers this to be the truth when leaked intelligence suggests that his wife might be a German spy.
Max’s subsequent attempts to deal with this crushing revelation and uncover her true identity sets up an intriguing central mystery, and for much of its running time Allied generates some serious suspense, although Marianne strangely vanishes for much of the film thereafter, despite being crucial to the intrigue. Things quickly fall apart in the third act, however, which resembles Spielberg at his worst – or best, if sentiment is your thing.
Robert Zemeckis directs on autopilot here – you could easily mistake this for the work of Edward Zwick. The period recreation is impressive, especially the early scenes set in Casablanca (which intentionally evoke the classic film of the same name), with Pitt and Cotillard adequate stand-ins for Bogart and Bergman. But for a big, star-powered romantic spy thriller from a dependable filmmaker, Allied is surprisingly mediocre. There are moments you’ll wish you were watching Pitt in Inglourious Basterds instead.
In cinemas: December 26, 2016
Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis