Editor’s Notes: Allied will be out on in its respective home video format February 28th.
Allied (Paramount Home Entertainment) a wartime thriller with a large helping of romance, stars Brad Pitt as Max Vatan, a Royal Canadian Air Force wing commander on a top-secret mission in Casablanca. He has agreed to pose as the husband of French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard). Under Marianne’s guidance, they put on appearances to gain access to Vichy government officials, ultimately setting up the assassination of a key German dignitary.
Posing as a married couple, they become genuinely attracted to each other and Max determines to bring Marianne to London, get married and start a family. This involves background checks and considerable red tape. Eventually, however, Marianne comes to London and the marriage takes place. All goes smoothly for a while, until Max’s superiors assign him the most disturbing mission of his life.
Allied is that unusual movie these days — about real people rather than superheroes or cartoons. It’s a pleasure to watch a good story unfold with two stars playing meaty characters. Movie-savvy viewers can’t help but make connections to Casablanca, released 73 years earlier. Both are set in the same locale and period and involve charismatic leads in political intrigue, and both use the Nazi-controlled Vichy government as a dramatic impediment to the characters’ happiness.
Director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) attempts to recapture the romantic mood of that classic but never quite achieves it. Though certainly good-looking, Pitt’s character is oddly bland. Even when Max gives forth with an emotional outburst provoked by an unforeseen revelation, he comes off as a kid unhappy he didn’t get his way in a toy store. Ms. Cotillard easily dominates the film with her sensuality, mystery, and vulnerability. Hers is the more complex character and the one driving the plot.
There is definite chemistry between Cotillard and Pitt, which is key to making us accept their relationship. Zemeckis creates a few great set pieces, one in a car as they make love in the midst of a raging sandstorm and another as Marianne gives birth during an air raid, anti-aircraft gunfire and bombs bursting around her. Production design captures the era, with military uniforms for the men and lavish satin gowns for Ms. Cotillard dominating the costumes, and vintage vehicles providing believable touches to the street scenes.
None of the Nazi officials featured in the movie takes on the gravitas of Conrad Veidt’s Major Strasser in Casablanca. This allows the script to stay focused on Marianne and Max but misses the opportunity to fashion a memorable bad guy.
Rated R, Allied is old-fashioned in the sense that is a solid story with attractive stars. Director Zemeckis displays a flair for old-style melodrama, yet manages to make the film fresh, aided by subtle but effective use of special effects and a solid supporting cast.
Bonus extras on the Blu-ray release include featureless on production design, digital effects, costume design, and weapons used in the film; interviews with cast and crew members; and a look at the creative process behind the film’s musical score. A digital HD copy is enclosed. Other editions include DVD and 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo Pack.