Allied would very much like to be a classic. From the opening, nearly wordless, sequence where an enigmatic parachutist drops into a Sheltering Sky sunset sea of dunes before slipping seamlessly into a totally Rick Blaine Casablanca Allied is a very pretty-looking movie. Almost too pretty looking.
Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt are the 1940s Mr & Mrs Smith who are initially teamed up by British intelligence to bump off a Nazi ambassador. Cotillard has that limpid, luminous eye thing going on for her and looks amazing in every shot. Pitt, meanwhile, has either allowed director Robert Zemeckis to unleash some CGI magic on his face or he really has got 10 years younger since he made he made his previous WW2-set drama, Fury. You have to keep reminding yourself that he isn’t Guy Pearce.
While you might be happy for Cotillard and Pitt to just motor around North Africa terminating Nazis, the story is a far twistier affair than that, and leads us to the leafy London district of Hampstead. The Blitz is over but there are still occasional night raids, and there are also wild parties with people getting drunk and taking cocaine and viewing the anti-aircraft fire almost as a firework display. Hampstead in 1943 looks, like everything else in this movie, great.
Cotillard and Pitt are by this time married, but as in all espionage dramas, you are never quite sure who you can trust. Is Cotillard – despite vetting by British Intelligence – all she says she is? A key casting decision rather gives the game away here. It’s like watching Columbo and knowing immediately who the killer is because they’re the most famous person in the show.
Pitt tries to answer these questions for himself, improbably commandeering an RAF Lysander for an unsanctioned commando raid that leads, almost by chance, to him unravelling the mystery.
It’s hard to go into much more detail without giving away the key mystery on which the whole movie pivots. Allied is definitely a beautifully-made, exciting and involving movie that you would feel happy about watching. It just isn’t a classic.