allied-movie-review

It’s wasn’t always as good then as it is now. Allied, a new World War II epic from legendary director Robert Zemeckis opens in wide release on Wednesday. It’s a throwback to romantic war epics stretching as far back as Casablanca but despite its grandeur can’t help but feel tired and rote.

Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) is a Canadian spy and pilot during World War II. He parachutes into North Africa to meet up with famed spy Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) in Casablanca. They have the cover of being a husband and wife finally reunited after the separation of war. In reality, they are plotting to assassinate a German ambassador.

Passing several tense examinations of their cover, Max and Marianne eventually win the confidence of the Germans and attend a party where they complete their mission. In a daring escape, they flee Casablanca when the German troops mysteriously do not follow them as they speed away from the party.

Knowing neither of them have many places to go, and smitten with conspirator, Max invites Marianne to move to London with him to be his wife. She accepts and they settle into as idyllic a life as is possible during the blitz, with Marianne retiring to motherhood and Max working largely behind the front, helping with British intelligence.

All is going to plan for Max and Marianne until one day when Max is called into a secret meeting where his superiors inform him that they believe Marianne is a German spy. They instruct Max that their investigation will reveal the truth within 72 hours, when, if Marianne is guilty, Max will have to execute her by his own hand. Max sets off on a furious clandestine investigation to try to discover the truth for himself.

Allied is desperate to establish itself as a romantic war epic on par with classics from the ‘40s and ‘50s. It is in, in nearly every frame, a throwback to that time as it seeks to recapture a cinematic feel that’s somewhat disappeared from today’s films.

However, in its attempt to recreate the classics, Allied feels a bit hackneyed. It’s so focused on retreading already explored ground and doesn’t bring anything new at all to the genre. Zemeckis does stage some thrilling spy scenes and his depiction of the Blitz is harrowing, but outside of some technical advancements, Allied doesn’t reinvent the classic war romance, it just recreates it.

It is certainly an able recreation. Pitt and Cotillard exhibit tremendous chemistry in the leads and Cotillard is specifically great as a spy whose allegiances are often unclear. The film’s recreation of the era is striking, and there’s certainly an amount of windswept emotion that harkens back to what the film is trying to be.

The issue is that Allied is simply a good recreation of something great. Rather than trying to reinvent the World War II movie, it is preoccupied with returning it to a glory that has since faded.

In this case, that glory may never be recaptured.

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