Allied is something of a curious star vehicle for Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. Set in a world of WWII espionage, the stars play spies that fall in love during a field mission and find potential double crossing once married back at home. The screenplay (by Steven Knight) strives for old school Hollywood wartime love story with dashes of noir and minor twists on character tropes. However, the film itself under Robert Zemeckis’s direction is all but disinterested in what makes the screenplay worthwhile, preferring a glossy veneer that rarely dives deeper than the over-tinkered surface. Much of Allied looks and feels completely artificial.
The film’s first Morocco-set act (its best) has a simmering intrigue that the movie doesn’t maintain once the lovers are united. Zemeckis empty visual grandness present in the rest of the film is enigmatic and entertaining here, building the film’s world rather than needlessly showing off. The film also hums to the understated rhythms of Cotillard’s performance, sly and involving without borrowing from the screen mavens of the era the film itself is chasing. Allied is never more alive than when Cotillard is center stage, even Pitt deferential to her subtle and sexy work.