The central question driving Robert Zemeckis’ latest film Allied revolves around whether or not Brad Pitt’s Max will have to kill his wife Marianne. But it’s a trick question. Neither of them are very alive in the first place.
They are both spies, however, which makes this sullen, lethargic movie doubly disappointing. It’s not that the film lacks action. It’s that it lacks passion, chemistry and charm. Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard walk through their paper-thin roles as if told not to overshadow their movie star faces and impressive wardrobe.
The film doesn’t start off that way. Its early scenes focus on Pitt’s Canadian spy and Cotillard’s French spy meeting in Casablanca under the guise of matrimony and falling in love during a mission to assassinate a high-ranking German target. There’s intrigue here because both characters are professional liars, so as they appear to fall for each other, you’re unsure if their lack of chemistry comes from fear or dishonesty. And in a spy movie sense, it’s fun to watch them work together to dupe others, while also not knowing exactly where they stand with each other.
But then everything goes South. It turns out we were supposed to believe they were falling in love after all, as Max invites Marianne to marry him in London once their mission is complete. They even have a wee baby together. From this point on, Marianne drops out as a subject of the story and becomes merely an object for Max to investigate.
Higher-ups inform Max that his wife is a German spy. A test put in the field will prove it in the next two days. But that’s not enough for Max. He has to know sooner. So most of the film involves him giving his wife side eye for lying to him, while lying to her so he can go investigate people that might know her true identity. He gets his answer around the same time the government’s test comes through, so his private investigation not only doesn’t matter but deprives this core relationship screen time required to make us care about its outcome.
There are good moments here are there. With these actors, there must be. The film has flourishes of visual beauty to it as well, particularly when Zemeckis’ computers fill the sky with the chaos of air warfare over populated London areas. But it’s mostly just a dead movie, checking off boxes before finally ending its story on a bit of unearned poignancy. In a year, no one will remember this came out at all.