writer-director Robert Zemeckis delivered blockbuster films in the '90s, including Back to the Future, Forrest Gump and Cast Away. His track record hasn't been as strong recently, though that's not to say his films haven't been as good. But it does suggest that his movies might not connect with audiences in the same way that they once did. While his latest venture, Allied, has aspirations of becoming an epic, it ultimately comes off as a conventional romance. The movie opens area wide today.
The film centers on Canadian intelligence officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt), a guy who parachutes into the North African desert during the height of World War II. There, he meets French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), and the two embark on a secret mission to assassinate a high-ranking German officer. A couple of pros, they're experts at the art of deception and pretend to be a married French couple. Max even does his best to adopt a Parisian accent that will hide the fact that he's Canadian.
After their mission concludes, they move to London where Max continues to work for the Allied forces trying to stop Hitler's advances in Europe. They marry and have a child; all seems as peachy keen as can be despite the frequent bombings that send everyone in London scurrying to shelters.
When Max's boss tells him there's a chance his wife is a German spy, he freaks and scurries to prove him wrong even though an internal investigation has launched and he only has a matter of hours to prove them wrong. As can be expected given the casualties of war, many of the people who knew Marianne are dead, so Max has to fly into France to interrogate a prisoner there who knew her before he did. His venture there involves eluding a vigilant group of Nazis and leads to some of the film's most suspenseful moments.
But even if the film's last half delivers some bona fide thrills, Allied fails to add anything new to the war drama genre. Pitt and Cotillard deliver solid performances, but the chemistry between them just isn't there. And while the storyline, which screenwriter Steven Knight (Eastern Promises) says is based on a true story he heard when he was in his 20s, has a ring of authenticity to it, it doesn't transcend into an epic movie and isn't likely to resonate with audiences.