Allied movie review: Brad Pitt, that Inglourious Basterd, is hunting Nazis again
Allied movie review: Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard bring charm and swoop to Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis’ old-school spy thriller.movie reviews Updated: Jan 06, 2017 14:37 IST
Director - Robert Zemeckis
Cast - Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Matthew Goode, Lizzy Caplan
Rating - 4/5
The Gigli Effect, a phrase coined approximately 5 minutes ago (so go easy), is defined as that phenomenon in which a much-hyped movie tanks embarrassingly upon release primarily due to its stars’ domestic drama overwhelming everything else. It was named after Gigli, that abomination of a film starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, which has, since its release in 2003, found a new lease of life as the source of endless amusement for the curious and adventurous moviegoer.
But that was Gigli. That was almost 15 years ago. In 2017, it has been decided (once again, only 5 minutes ago) that the Gigli Effect shall henceforth be known as The Allied Aftermath. It would be best if everyone were to start using it in casual conversation immediately. Thank you.
Both Gigli and Allied have suffered – ironically, for placing the safest bet they could, that is, casting huge movie stars as its leads, whose faces will adorn posters outside theatres around the world, their names above the title, and on marquees, their fans desperate to pelt them with their hard-earned cash.
Imagine the look in director Robert Zemeckis’ eyes, having landed both Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard to star in his quaint World War II spy movie, the sort that Hollywood used to make decades ago, in the days of Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney. But no one could have predicted #Brangelina. No one could have anticipated that there would come a time when audiences, offered the opportunity to gawk at Brad Pitt’s face for 2 hours, instead of lining up outside theatres like they used to, would instead emit a collective ‘meh’.
The only difference in both these cases is this: Gigli is, unquestionably, a terrible film. Allied however, turned out to be quite the surprise. Allow me to explain.
Upon first viewing, it’s difficult to say what Zemeckis was going for here. The rational, conservative mind would hesitate before calling it a romantic homage to Casablanca – Steven Soderbergh already attempted that (with the rather mediocre The Good German). Also, who would even dare?
But as it progresses (at a surprisingly brisk pace) the ideas that first seemed jarring, begin to take shape. The tone – at once war movie, spy thriller, classic romance – smoothly blends into a solid movie, with real characters and a real story, shot just as luxuriously as it is scored and performed, with shades of North by Northwest and The Game. Like the good old days.
Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard play spies during World War II, strangers, tasked with a rather swashbuckling mission. They meet in Casablanca, where, disguised as husband and wife, they must assassinate a powerful Nazi ambassador.
Even the most sketchy knowledge of how movies work should have you confidently nodding away, pleased at your clever prediction that the two must eventually fall in love during the course of their mission. They do. It begins with stolen glances as they socialise with Casablanca’s wealthiest, embraces that linger for a moment too long as they say their goodbyes, and it ends with a shootout, several dead Nazis, and a mad dash for survival. Of course they were going to fall in love.
Aided by a terrific script by the always excellent Steven Knight, proper movie star turns from Pitt and Cotillard, and some of Robert Zemeckis’ most carefully confident late-period direction (he uses some of the oldest tricks in the book, like the master that he is), Allied is a far better film than most are giving it credit for. It is also another feather in Brad Pitt’s collection of colourful Nazi hunter characters. Aldo the Apache and Wardaddy would be proud budge up and make some room for Max Vatan.
Which brings us to THAT twist. It arrives sometime around the half-way mark, and depending on your mood at that moment, will either elicit giggles or leave your jaw plonked firmly on the floor. The entire movie is balanced on how you react to that particular plot development – you can’t even call it a proper twist – so be warned: Do not, under any circumstance, watch the trailers, because if you do, you’d be robbing yourself of a very strong movie and you might as well be using your money to fund some upcoming Neo-Nazi factions.
Watch the Allied trailer here