FILM REVIEW: Allied – “Squandered Potential”
During the war, a French Resistance fighter and an American intelligence officer are positioned in Northern Africa to murder a high-ranking German official. When they return to London and get married, life seems to be picturesque: they live in a quaint little house, are adored by their friends, and have an adorable baby girl to care for. This is all shattered when Marianne (Marion Cotillard), the wife, is suspected to be a Nazi spy.
It’ll hit you out of nowhere just as much as it does her husband, Max (Brad Pitt), and the rest of the film is a desperate attempt to prove her innocence so that Max can avoid having to execute her with his own hand. At least, it would’ve hit you out of nowhere were it not revealed in the trailer beforehand, but that can’t be helped now. We have a premise, two central leads, and the threat of the Nazis – all crucial ingredients for a war thriller. Is it any good? Kind of.
The relationship between Max and Marianne is pretty much the crux of the whole story, so it would be pretty ridiculous if the audience didn’t believe in their love for one another and what such a revelation could do. While the romanticism over the course of the movie is believable, their initial attraction occurs over the space of a mere ten days. Ten days. Fair enough, they were in close proximity to each other for this time; but it felt a bit rushed that they’d develop feelings strong enough to marry in London after only recently meeting. I understand that the film can only be so long, it was just a bit jarring to see these two complete strangers undertake a single mission and suddenly want to spend the rest of their lives together, you know? Of course, the film tries to mask this with some glaring time-jumps from one year to the next, but it doesn’t change the fact that within the space of twenty minutes they’re greeting each other and then married with a child – from the audience’s perspective, at least.
It becomes easier to ignore this peculiar blossoming of love once the real core of the movie gets underway, though. For the entire second act, when Max is struggling with the idea that his wife could be a spy, you genuinely feel his pain. He’s desperately trying to prove that his one love (albeit speedy one) and the mother of his daughter could be working with the enemy. There’s plenty of red herrings and clues throughout that mean you’re constantly on the fence as to whether he should suspect her; it’s a really fun puzzle to solve. Well, fun in the sense that you won’t be the one killing your wife, but you get the idea.
Then the big twist comes (which I won’t spoil), and you’re just left kind of…deflated. It’s nice to have a sense of resolution to a burning question that the entire film relies upon, but the way in which it’s developed inevitably surpasses the way in which it’s answered. While the trailers may have given away too much, when the climax of the movie does arrive, you’ll be hoping for a second in order to justify all the hype.
I guess the real reason that I was disappointed with Allied is that it promised so much and actually gave us the most basic story that it could have within the confines of the premise. Sure, it began with a question and ended with an answer, but I wanted far more twists and turns than we received. In a sense, it reminded me of The Purge: you’ve got this really quite unique concept that could be taken in a multitude of directions, and instead you choose the most basic one that might indeed deliver a sense of finality, but also an accompanying sense of squandered potential. It’ll have you guessing, but the solutions you come up with will in fact be much more interesting than the ones you’re given.