Paramount(NEW YORK) — Brad Pitt has been a movie star for a long time, but it’s been a while since he’s been in a movie in which he seemed like one of the world’s greatest leading men.
Let me tell you about Allied.
Every great leading man needs a great leading woman, and here Pitt stars opposite Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard. Pitt is Max Vatan, an American working for British Intelligence during World War 2. When we first meet Max, director Robert Zemeckis — in a gorgeous, serene opening scene — has him parachuting into the North African desert. He walks a while before he’s pricked up by a driver and taken to… Casablanca!
While Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claud Rains and Sydney Greenstreet are nowhere to be found, Max does meet up with Marianne Beauséjour, a French Resistance fighter who, like Max, is a spy. Even though they’ve never before met, their job is to be husband and wife. When they first meet in a café, they play the part to perfection, even fooling a group of friends Marianne has been cultivating for quite some time. And naturally, they’re attracted to one another for real.
Their mission is to assassinate a local Nazi official, and the steps they take to accomplish it are thrilling. Max and Marianne’s romance is equally as thrilling — mesmerizing and smoldering, so much so it burns itself somewhere into your medial temporal lobe, there for you to recall until your dying day.
Marianne and Max fall deeply in love. Or do they?
The first act of Allied is so well-executed, it has enough suspense and conflict for an entire film. Max and Marianne move to London, which is under constant threat of air raids, get married and have a baby. All is well, or as well as it can be in wartime, until Max is called into work, under the guise he’s getting a promotion.
Instead, Max is told Marianne is a Nazi spy. His job is to help set a trap to ferret her out. And if it turns out she is a spy, he’s instructed to kill her. Otherwise, he’ll be considered a co-conspirator and traitor, and both he and Marianne will be executed. Which is somewhat less appealing than his and hers bath towels.
Under Zemeckis’ guidance, Allied is fraught with tension and romance, as unpredictable and gut-wrenching as it is gorgeous. And-it-is-gorgeous.
We have plenty of movie stars, but it’s become a rare occurrence to watch a movie and feel like you’re actually watching movie stars. Allied is a throwback, not only because it harkens back to some of the great espionage thrillers of decades past, but because with Pitt and Cotillard, you feel like you’re watching true movie stars, the kind you’d see on an old-school black-and-white newsreel, walking the red carpet at Allied’s gala world premiere at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, replete with searchlights and a vintage radio announcer describing the glamourous scene.
Allied is nearly perfect.
Four-and-a-half out of five stars.
Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.