For much of his career director Robert Zemeckis has dealt broadly with lighter themed material and, even when things have got dramatic as in parts of Forrest Gump or Cast Away, it has mostly been with with a sense of melodrama rather than serious grit.
So Allied, following the story of a pair of allied spies during the Second World War from a secret mission in Casablanca to their marriage, starting a family and more, feels like something of side step.
However, from the start it’s clear that Allied exists in a world of a similar tone to the likes of Gump where reality has a heightened and cinematic sheen.
This style is matched by the actors with Brad Pitt as Canadian airman Max Vatan and Marion Cotillard as former French Resistance member Marianne Beausejour in fine form.
Pitt in particular fits this well and it’s similar to something we’ve seen from him before, in a slightly different way, in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (a feeling only escalated but the appearance of August Diehl as Herr Hobar).
Cotillard meanwhile perfectly fits her role as well giving a sense of what is to come as the film goes on, even if you don’t quite notice it at first.
While the visual style is heightened and all seems a bit too clean and bright given the dark twists and turns the mysterious plot takes, Zemeckis does add an air of authenticity to things with spectacular visuals in the blitz scenes to the interiors of military offices & bunkers and pubs & suburbs of wartime London.
The only time it really pushes the melodrama a little too far is when Beausejour gives birth, mid air raid, in the open, with a dog fight and bombing run going on over head. I appreciate what Zemeckis was trying to depict here but it all just felt a little too much given the stakes of what came before and after.
As the second half of the film continues the sense of mystery and tension really does build and build to a suitable crescendo that pulls together all the little hints and suggestions that have built across the film’s two hours into a satisfying denouement.
While not a classic on the level of Forrest Gump or Back To The Future, and with a few issues around its apparent real life scenario and setting, Allied is a very enjoyable film with some great if comparatively light performances (though both Pitt and Cotillard get to show off the emotion in the finale) that is a fine way to spend a few hours, even if it’s unlikely to set the world on fire.