FlixChatter Review: ALLIED (2016)

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So this is a film that has quite a pedigree. Starting w/ the director Robert Zemeckis, who have made some of the best films like Back To The Future, Romancing The Stone, Forrest Gump, Contact, etc. plus the two A-listers, Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. I have to admit my main draw was Zemeckis and Cotillard, as I’ve never been a Pitt fan. Well, my instinct is right the first time around as Cotillard is certainly the more interesting to watch out of the two.

The film is set in 1942, with Pitt as an intelligence officer Max in North Africa where he encounters a female French Resistance fighter, Marianne, in Morocco. The opening shot is striking, with an aerial shot of the desert and a wide shot of Pitt walking under the hot Sahara sun. Then he gets picked up in a car à la James Bond (the scene is reminiscent to when Bond and his girl get picked up by a Rolls-Royce in the middle of the Moroccan desert in Spectre). It plays out like some kind of retro GQ commercial with Pitt looking clean-cut and debonair, as he’s dropped off at a party to meet his pretend wife. Again it’s as if he’s playing Bond to his Bond girl, complete with the him speaking in French in front of Marianne’s friends.

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I love spy romances, it’s a sub-genre I wish Hollywood would make more of. Well, Allied certainly has all the ingredients for a great WWII romance drama. It’s definitely more drama than thrillers as you can count with one hand the amount of action in this film, which suits me just fine. What I do expect is a compelling story, great suspense and a sweeping romance worth rooting for. Unfortunately, the film falls short on all counts. The main thing for me is that it feels so insincere. Yes I know the actors are pretending to play pretends in the film, and it was rather amusing to watch at first. I especially enjoyed the scenes of them at the roof with Cotillard playing up her flirtatious side. But after a while it becomes kind of repetitive.


There’s not much espionage stuff going on in this film, but the first part was definitely much more engaging than the second. After an action-heavy scene at a top-ranking Nazi officer’s swanky party, the film then transitions from North Africa to the UK, where pretty much all the intrigue and flair fizzles almost instantly. Max and Marianne are now happily married with couple. When suspicion arises that Marianne is perhaps not who she says she is, the dramatic tension just isn’t there. I feel that Pitt is sort of sleepwalking his way through the film. Perhaps he aims to look poised and unruffled, but he comes across looking bored. Cotillard fares much better though she overacted a bit in parts, but her immense screen charisma is always a treat to watch. Then there’s the lack of chemistry between the two. Even the sex scenes lack any real heat, heck I was paying attention more to how they do that dust storm effects whilst they’re in the car! Overall I just don’t feel invested in their love affair. It’s really too bad as the story certainly has potential for a real heart-wrenching wartime romance.

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The supporting cast don’t really get much to do. Even the great Jared Harris, who was simply astonishing in Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women, was perhaps the most memorable one here as Pitt’s boss. Matthew Goode is barely recognizable and his cameo appearance seems like a waste of his talent. Lizzy Caplan is grossly-underutilized as her character doesn’t seem to serve much purpose at all.

Now, the Mr & Mrs. Smith comparison is inevitable given both leads are spies (not to mention the recent commotion of Brangelina), but the Morocco setting also instantly conjures up memories of the much, much more compelling WWII romance drama Casablanca. Watching this actually made me want to rewatch it and so I did. I convinced my hubby, who hadn’t seen it before, to rent it on Thanksgiving eve. Well, Allied could barely hold a candle to that masterful classic, no matter how visually dazzling it looks. Which brings me to the stunning cinematography by Zemeckis’ regular Don Burgess. The visuals, costumes and set pieces are definitely a plus here, they’re more authentic than the performances of the leads.

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Overall, this is quite a disappointing effort from Zemeckis. The film is more style over substance… an elegant, sleek but utterly superficial affair. I’d think this type of film would make me cry buckets, but my eyes were dry the entire time. What’s more, for a film about espionage, the utter lack of edge and suspense is indefensible.

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Have you seen ALLIED? I’d love to hear what you think!

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34 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: ALLIED (2016)

        1. I always liked her and she’s definitely more fun to watch here than Pitt, for me anyway. Ok then, I love that it’s just gonna be us girls at Lucky 13 😉

  1. I try to be positive but this was a severe disappointment. As a classic movie fan, I was offended. Lol. I thought their chemistry was OK, but not great, and even more frustratingly, the film had very great potential. The plot has holes you can fly one of the planes through. Overall, it drove me nuts and wasted 3-4 brilliant actors. The only silver lining is Pitt can probably finance another brilliant Indie like MOONLIGHT through Plan B with his $ from this.

    1. Hi Paula! It is indeed disappointing. I felt like even 2.5 seems generous. Ahah, I could see how you’re offended, it’s like they’re ripping off Casablanca in a way, but it falls way short. The story feels recycled but Pitt’s performance is even worse, it’s like he’s pretending to be James Bond or something.

      Ahah, very true about that silver lining, maybe he should do more producing and less *acting.*

  2. Nice review, and you highlighted everything I expected from this one. It just seems like the entire story already unfolded in the trailers, and even that left me disinterested in it. If a trailer can’t even capture my attention, it’s not a film I’d go to theaters and see. It’s a shame, because on paper it sounds like tremendous potential, especially with that cast!

    1. Hi Courtney, yep, all the action is in the trailers, including that love scene too! Unless you’re a huge fan of the cast, I’d say just rent this later. Have you seen Casablanca? If not, then I recommend renting that instead.

      P.S. I’m very curious to read your review of La La Land! 😉

      1. Yeah, why would it give so much away in the trailer!?!?! It could have been such a subtle “less is more” trailer, but I’m not sure if that would have made the movie any better. Casablanca is such a classic treasure. I’m still battling my negative feelings toward La La Land. It pays homage to movies like Casablanca only to remind you that it isn’t, nor will ever be, on the same caliber as those classics. Sigh.

  3. I was kind of interested in seeing this after the first trailer but when the reviews came out and lack of studio support, it’s not a good sign. Maybe I’ll watch when it’s Netflix.

    I haven’t been that impressed with Zemeckis’ work since Cast Away. I enjoyed Flight but his other movies were meh. I feel asleep trying to watch The Polar Express and Beowulf, for a while he seems to be obsessed with just making motion captured animation films.

    1. Hi Ted! You think there’s a lack of studio support? Well they probably think it’s a stinker too. I haven’t seen Flight yet so that means it’s been a while since I liked his work. I didn’t care for Polar Express at all, oh those dead eyes, that’s why I avoided Beowulf.

      1. Yeah, I didn’t see any TV spots of the film on any network TV until like a week before its release date. Usually if the studio really have high hopes for their film, they’d promote the heck out of it on all network TVs including cable networks. I didn’t realized the film was opening last month until I saw a TV spot during a show I watched on CBS or NBC.

        Flight was a good film about alcohol addiction but somehow they marketed it as some sort of courtroom thriller. I don’t remember much about Polar Express except it’s the first movie I rented when I had my very first projector. I do remember falling asleep a few times while watching it. I couldn’t even finish Beowulf, turned it off about 40 minutes in, just couldn’t get into it.

    1. Hi Mikey! Yep, when a movie reminds you of something SO much better, it’s basically just a poor imitation. No you’re not missing much at all.

  4. Great review Ruth. I guess the juries have mostly returned the same verdict on this one – a missed opportunity. I did like the cinematography and the clothes – but this alone does not make a film great

    1. Well hello Mike, how’s life treating you in Georgia? Yep, looks alone does not make a movie. It’s too bad as I think the story does have potential.

  5. Aw, that’s so disappointing that the movie fell flat. As you mentioned, Brad Pitt has a ‘sleepwalking’ element to him which in some movies can be a huge plus (Fight Club, Benjamin Button, Interview with the Vampire) and in some can be a real drag. I have been looking for a good visually beautiful movie recently (like Midnight in Paris) but I think that there are so many good ones out there at the cinemas that I can happily wait until this arrives on netflix 🙂

    1. Ahah very true. I think for certain actors, the ‘sleepwalking’ element might work for the role. I felt that w/ Keanu in ‘Constantine’ but at least he still appears cool w/ a ‘devil may care attitude’ but Pitt just looks disengaged here. Oh if you’re looking for a visually beautiful movie that has plenty of substance, check out the New Zealand comedy ‘Hunt For the Wilderpeople’ which is absolutely stunning (available to rent now), oh and ‘Moonlight’ which should be in some indie theaters. Or just rent Casablanca or re-watch if you’ve seen it 😉

      1. I have been wanting to see Hunt For the Wilderpeople but for some reason I can never get into the mood to actually sit down and watch it! I KNOW that I’ll love it. I’ve already committed to that. But getting into the mood is so hard. But reading reviews from people helps haha. #firstworldproblems

  6. Pingback: L13FC: Allied – Cindy Bruchman

  7. First I was angry that this was coming here so late, as I also love Cottilard. But then I realised it was done by Zemeckis, who hasn’t made a film I liked in a long time. As you know, I’m not big on romantic films, and the lack of any suspense has me reconsidering whether I should watch this on the big screen. I probably will for the visuals you speak of and for Cottilard, but I’ll be keeping my expectations in check!

    1. Hey Jordan! You’re not missing much not seeing this one. Cotillard is still lovely to watch, but the film itself is a big fat meh. For a story built around a love story between two spies, the two leads barely had any chemistry.

      1. Hmmm, that’s a pretty big problem! I think Pitt needs certain directors to get the best out of him. Like his role in Burn After Reading, or 12 Monkeys… in those movies he really showed versatility. Or who knows, I might be talking out my backside!

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