Well, not always. Allied is his first film since The Walk in which he majestically recreated the Twin Towers of New York City. In Allied, Zemeckis has taken on the slightly less challenging task of bringing 1940s Casablanca and then 1940s London back to life, but this is a story that doesn’t seem to require Zemeckis to really push the technological envelope in the brilliant ways he has in the past (like Roger Rabbit’s interaction with the real world and Flight’s spectacular plane crash).
Allied stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard as spies who first meet in French Morocco in 1942 when they are thrown together and must pretend to be husband and wife in order to assassinate a high-ranking Nazi. No prizes for guessing that the pair falls in love during their tense time plotting away in Casablanca. But although this takes up half of the film, the plot really only finally kicks into gear in the second half when it is revealed that the British believe that Cotillard may be a double-dealing, dirty-rotten Nazi spy.
If you feel it’s a bit of a slog getting through the first half as the inevitable romance seems to take an age to blossom, then stick with Allied for a slightly more gripping final hour as Pitt’s love for his new wife is tested. The Casablanca-set scenes are not wholly convincing, neither in their production design nor their lack of chemistry between the two stars. A sandstorm-set sex scene in a car is cleverly shot but fails to get pulses racing in the way that might be expected from seeing two beautiful stars getting their rocks off together. Maybe it’s the thought of all that sand getting in the way... ouch.
But it’s the structure that is the real problem in Allied. It builds to the assassination as if this is a climax, but then almost completely changes in tone and pace when the spies marry, have a child and start a quiet life in England. The question of ‘is she a Nazi spy or isn’t she?’ is fascinating but introduced far too late in proceedings. Pitt and Cotillard are coasting through the material, meaning that it lacks the emotional punch that the finale so desperately wants to evoke. And while Zemeckis has some fun creating the odd action scene, these are ill-fitted with much of the rest of the story.
Allied wants to be a classic tale of war, deception and doomed love, but despite the calibre of all involved, it’s simply a fitfully entertaining but oddly-plotted affair.
ALLIED / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: ROBERT ZEMECKIS / SCREENPLAY: STEVEN KNIGHT / STARRING: BRAD PITT, MARION COTILLARD , VINCENT EBRAHIM, XAVIER DE GUILLEBON / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 25TH
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10