Mr & Mrs – ★★½
The first half an hour of Robert Zemeckis’s Allied is some of the worst work he has ever had his name attached to. That’s saying a lot considering Zemeckis is responsible for the curious dud that is 2007’s Beowulf. The film opens in Casablanca in the depth of World War II as Brad Pitt’s intelligence officer Max sets up a rendezvous with French Resistance fighter Marianne (Marion Cotillard) for an assassination mission. It’s a success and the two fall in love and move back to England. They get hitched and have a child together – so far so good. Cue the spanner in the works – Max is told by British intelligence that it’s quite likely that his wife is in fact an imposter and a spy.
It’s only at this point in the plot that the film starts to pick up. Now the complete lack of early chemistry between Pitt and Cotillard suddenly becomes forgivable, as you realise that maybe she’s been faking it all along. Away from their relationship, the film is best described as light and easy-going, with the true trauma of living through the second world war only really touched upon twice – during a surreal birth sequence in a hospital during a bombing, and later during Max’s visit to a veteran’s hospital.
We’ve now seen Brad Pitt do his WWII schtick three times in a decade (Fury and Inglorious Basterds) and it’s starting to feel a little old. It doesn’t help that he seems exhausted and frustrated here with no joy on show in what should have been a pretty fun role to play. Whether or not the off-screen rumours about them cosying up on set are true, it’s impossible to watch his performance here and not have your views tempered by the fact the man’s marriage fell apart this year.
The final hour of the film finally brings the Zemeckis magic as Max flies back to France for some answers, culminating in a thrilling and dramatic final act back in London with Marianne. Unfortunately it’s not enough to save things and turn it into a must-see viewing.