Allied (2016)

(Video On-Demand, March 2017) As someone with supposedly professional movie criticism credentials, I loathe to dislike a movie because of an unhappy ending, but here I am now thinking about Allied and what sticks in my craw is the ending. Much of it has to do with expectations set up much earlier in the movie. Allied does begin, after all, with a first act in which two likable heroes meet in WW2 Casablanca, fall in love and kill some Nazis in a guns-blazing action sequence. It’s fun and games and doesn’t really represent the rest of the film, which goes back to England for some rainy gloomy counter-espionage drama. It gets less and less triumphant as it goes on, while Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard are perhaps too successful in creating sympathy for their characters—by the time we see there is no issue for both of them, it’s too late. Otherwise, director Robert Zemeckis is up to his usual technically demanding standards in presenting a World-War 2 drama with flair and theatrics—there’s a love-in-a-sandstorm sequence that’s both effective and over-the-top, a decent recreation of covert work tension and fancy camera moves. While the film exploits WW2 spy tropes for drama, it remains grounded in some reality. (Well, other than Brad Pitt speaking French—while he’s supposed to be a Franco-Ontarian like myself, his French sounds exactly like an Englishman reciting European French phonetically—and no amount of in-script joshing about it can compensate.) A shame about the downbeat ending, then, because otherwise Allied is semi-successful at what it tried to do. Although, what can I say—I’m a guy. Spies, guns and car chases work better than tragic romance.

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