MovieBob Reviews: ALLIED (2016) | Movies |

Right up front: Allied is a pretty damn good movie. You know what would’ve made it even better? If they didn’t give away the big second-half spoiler in the trailer. But give it away they did, which as far as I’m concerned means its fair game to discuss here. Consider yourself warned.

Ever since Brad Pitt first showed up on the scene, one of the most frequently cited aspects of his appeal was that he had the appearance and onscreen persona of a classically handsome Hollywood leading man – the kind of iconic masculine visage Western popular culture seemed to have stopped manufacturing right around the time it somehow became acceptable for grown adult men to wear sandals year-round in locations that aren’t the beach. Yet despite this, the former Mr. Jolie hasn’t really done a lot of direct homage to Golden Age Hollywood. So now here he is in Allied, a classy old-school epic wartime romance that outside of a handful of details deliberately feels like a film that might’ve been right at home in pre-1970s studio era.

It’s a small story of big emotions unfolding with epic stakes in the background (often literally and realized through handsome if not 100% convincing CGI) that’s divided neatly in two halves – which also feels kind of old school, even if there isn’t the expected intermission break. In the first half, Pitt is a dashing Canadian spy in World War II who parachutes into Nazi-occupied Morocco to team up with Marion Cotillard as a brave French resistance fighter on a joint mission to assassinate the German ambassador. Their infiltration cover-story requires them to impersonate a married couple, and in the process of building their characters (who’d have guessed!?), they fall in love for real. Oh, and they also kill the Nazi guy. That’s important, too.

The second half of the film then picks up a couple years later (after a bravura bridging sequence where Cotillard manages to give birth in the middle of Blitzkrieg bombing raid) with the pair now happily married and living in London; where she goes to school and raises their daughter while he continues his military work now for the homefront office. But just when everything seems perfect, the brass decide to drop a hellacious bomb on everything: Informing Pitt that they now believe his wife has actually been a deep-cover Nazi double-agent this whole time, they assign him to lead the investigation to find out the truth and (if that turns out to be the case) take her out himself.

What a twist, huh!? Imagine how surprised everyone would be if they hadn’t given it away right in the middle of every damn trailer…

That sudden switch around from glossy high-toned romantic wartime drama to dark morally-compromised spy thriller as Pitt’s character becomes increasingly unnerved trying to discover the truth and wrestle with his conscience about what exactly he’s actually going to do if the truth he finds isn’t the truth he wants is Allied’s big show hook – and it’s a damn good one. But it feels like it might be even better in a differently-structured film. If this had been made in the 50s-60s “big star” studio era, it’s paying such obvious tribute to, it probably would’ve had an actual intermission and both halves would’ve been longer and more detailed. And maybe that would’ve been a better fit.

But, as it stands, Allied is a really solid movie. Hollywood gets this kind of thing wrong so often lately, it’s easy to forget just how much of a rock-solid piece of entertainment you can end up with when a veteran filmmaker and a pair of bankable genuine movie stars get their hands on a good script and do it justice. The film isn’t going to change your life, it’s probably not a perennial, isn’t likely to end up being a lot of people’s favorite movies at the end of the year; but this is about as good as “grown up” movies get this time of year without also being five goddamn hours long or depressing as hell. Recommended.

MovieBob Reviews: ALLIED (2016) | Movies |

MovieBob Reviews: ALLIED (2016) | Movies |


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