Allied (2016) – Robert Zemeckis

 

Available today from Paramount Pictures is director Robert Zemeckis’ wartime romantic thriller, Allied.

Opening in French Morocco,  the film is a deliberate throwback to the romantic war films of yesteryear. In the first half of the film there are intentional callbacks to films like Casablanca and Notorious, calling to mind our memories and emotions associated with these classics and adapting them to this film. As such, Allied would have been quite at home as a theatrical release at the time with some updates in terms of language, violence and nudity as the film embraces its R rating.

Two spies are thrown together, Canadian Intelligence officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) to pull off a dangerous mission, as they work together, they begin to develop feelings for one another, and when they are reunited in London, their relationship is put to the test when it’s suggested Marianne is working with the Germans.

The story works because of the performances, dialogue and the pacing of the film, all racing to a climax that you think you expect. Cotillard has always been a fantastic actor, and the camera loves everything she does, Pitt is almost outclassed by her performance.

Nominated for Best Costume Design, Cotillard and Pitt look fantastic, an once again I feel I was born in the wrong time, as I love the styles and clothes of the 40s.

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Zemeckis, as a director, has always had an eye for detail, and that is evident here in every layer of the film’s production.While I have never been a fan of 4K, the 1080p high definition picture of the blu-ray gives a beautifully sharp image, making them pop off the screen as exotic locales are brought to life.

While he has always been a bit of a special effects wunderkind and there are lots of them in this film, they are special in their ability not to be noticed as the film brings to life the World War II reality of both Casablanca and war-torn London. The effects add layers of reality to the film instead of drawing attention to themselves.

And these things are all covered in the special features on the blu-ray. Over an hours worth of featurettes take you through the production and post-production of the film as it shows stage and location work, a look at the costumes, the leads, the cast, the effects, vehicles, and music of the film (composed by long time Zemeckis associate, Alan Silvestri).

The only thing that threw me off about the whole blu-ray was the packaging. The poster to the left is far more appealing than the poster art they used for the sleeve, but don’t let that detract you from the experience that lays on the disc within.

Allied is solid entertainment, and while I am not always a Brad Pitt fan, Cotillard and Zemeckis make this film above average cinema fare, and make a nice nod to those romantic thrillers and dramas of yesteryear.

Allied is available on blu-ray and DVD today from Paramount.

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