Allied is solidly mixed-bag. Director Robert Zemeckis continues his quest to find his touch again, this time with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in two tales thrown into one. One of them shows up and does everything they can to help Zemeckis out, and the other does not. These polarizing performances, combined with a very rushed second half, leads to the mixed bag, despite a strong first half.
We have an extremely polarizing performance from our two leads. I bet you can guess which one was great, right? As terrible as Brad Pitt was, Marion Cotillard proved yet again why she is one of the most underrated actresses in the business. She props this film up with her performance and does everything she can despite getting absolutely nothing from her counterpart. For as mysterious, intriguing and emotional as she is, Brad Pitt is pretty much the exact opposite. He is dull, boring and lazily going through the motions. I have to say it was actually quite frustrating, if I’m being honest. On the one hand, Cotillard was clearly doing everything she could to drag Pitt along, but Pitt just wasn’t having it. He didn’t even try to have a British accent. Or anything other than an L.A. accent. I wasn’t 100 percent sure where his character was from, but it certainly wasn’t L.A.
Equally as polarizing are the two halves of this film. The first half was massively gripping, as we watch these two characters meet for the first time and have to immediately convince a group of Germans that they’re husband and wife, but this was as gripping as it was thanks to Cotillard. She is given a lot to do and explains a lot of her motivations and reasoning in this half that I was, like Pitt’s character, captivated by. But then the second half rolls around and the story shifts over to Pitt, and it became a lot less interesting.
Additionally, I have to harp on the effects and cinematography. Zemeckis stayed mostly invisible throughout the film, but the few times he did let his style come out it was not welcome. The effects, particularly as the Germans bombed Britain in the second half, were anything but great, and when Zemeckis decided to bring out some crazy 360-degree pans, it really took me out of the moment. The most egregious offense was shortly after Pitt and Cotillard got married. There was some confetti during a 360-degree pan that just looked hilariously fake while we spun around with Pitt and Cotillard, like an effect straight out of Polar Express or Beowulf.
I’m being so hard on this film because, unlike a lot of disappointing films out there, I really wanted this one to be good. And I did see some great sequences during this film. There’s no doubt this film is better than Zemeckis’s last venture, The Walk, but I do also think Zemeckis is still struggling to find the success he had in something like Forrest Gump, Cast Away or Back to the Future. But there’s a groundwork laid here that sets the stage (potentially) for finding it again in his next film. Hopefully by then he won’t have Brad Pitt around to ruin everything.