08 January 2017 06:55:49 IST

Allied: Boring without a doubt

In the end, Allied is a huge waste of anyone’s time

Starring: Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Runtime: 124 mins

Genre: Romantic drama

Synopsis: A World War II intelligence officer has been told his wife is a German spy posing as a resistance fighter

At the get go, the premise of Allied is intriguing. The film is set against the backdrop of World War II, one of the most tragic and bloody events in history. The leading couple comprises two secret agents fighting the Germans. They meet and fall in love in Casablanca on a mission to assassinate the German ambassador. Then the wife gets accused of being a German spy. All this, after they marry and have a daughter and settle into apparent domestic bliss. Seems like the makings of a great thriller. Now with director Robert Zemeckis – who won the Academy Award for Best Director for Forrest Gump – helming the project, you’d be justified in having high expectations. Plus, when Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard make the leading couple, those expectations have just soared sky high. The build-up to Allied ’s release has seen heavy-duty attention by the paparazzi, ensuring some level of curiosity. A rumoured affair between the film’s leading co-stars allegedly led to Angelina Jolie filing divorce proceedings against Pitt.

It’s unbelievable then, that no one noticed the glaring factors going against Allied ’s reach for cinematic excellence. For his part, Zemeckis recreates 1940s Casablanca and London to be the visually dystopian war zones that they were. The costumes are painstakingly accurate. He’s also done good in capturing the wealth disparity the Moroccan city endured with locals struggling to get by and the privileged living a life of luxury without rationing. What Allied didn’t lack in is its direction, cinematography or soundtrack.

The problem lies in everything else: the film’s actual story and its execution. For the first endless half of the two-something-hour-long film, a love story – lacking in any chemistry – unfolds. We’re tortured with the mindless exchange between Max Vatan (Pitt) and Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard). Vatan’s expressionless efforts to seamlessly fit in with the clever double agent Beausejour’s life in Casablanca should have been a lot more economical. Yet we’re subjected to stretched-out proceedings, including unnecessary social gatherings and pretences. Allied most certainly won’t go down as the pinnacle of either’s performance career. What made matters worse is the censorship the film faces in India. All traces of adult content including expletives have been victim to our censor’s hand. It’s resulted in painfully amateur edits and a jarring cinema experience.

When Vatan’s finally confronted with the actual twist of the film -- his wife is suspected to be a German spy – surely then film’s pace ought to have picked up. It doesn’t though. At such time, Allied had the potential to become a complex telling of a relationship and the pursuit of truth. Alas, everything plays out so predictably that if you decide to take a step out for a smoke, nothing will be amiss on return.

If the director’s intention was for the audience to root for Pitt and Cotillard’s onscreen love story, Zemeckis failed. If we were supposed to be so invested that Beausejour’s secret would be shocking, again, it was a colossal failure. In the end, Allied is a huge waste of anyone’s time.

(The article first appeared in The Hindu CinemaPlus.)