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Suspenseful Allied Has the Look of a Classic

Suspenseful <i>Allied</i> Has the Look of a Classic

If you ever see Casablanca or a Hitchcock film and mourn, "they don't make 'em like that anymore," then I have good news: they just did. Allied has the style, romance, and suspense of a yesteryear classic. Despite what the trailer may suggest, this is NOT just some WWII version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. 4.5 out of 5.


Allied is what the Brits would call a "cracking good tale" with cloak and dagger excitement and impossible choices. In 1942, when an intelligence officer (Brad Pitt) joins forces with a female French Resistance fighter (Marion Cotillard) for a deadly mission behind enemy lines, sparks and bullets fly. Their relationship progresses and everything is just peachy... until suspicion falls on her and everything he knows comes into question. The stakes are as high as they can possibly be; the penalty for treason is death. Will love outweigh patriotism? (Will it need to?) How far will a man go to save the woman he loves? (Does she even need saving?) You'll be glued to the screen waiting to find out.

What Works?

A lot. The whole feel of the film is like watching one of those AMC classic suspense/love stories, but in color and with better special effects. The costumes—inspired by Casablanca and Now, Voyager—are glamorous and the overall look is gorgeous. World War II is familiar territory for both Pitt (this is his fourth film set in that era) and Cotillard (her second) and they both seem right at home with the period and each other. Beyond the look and feel of it all, the plot is one of those "is she or isn’t she?" "will he or won't he?" stories that will keep you guessing and enjoying every minute.

What Doesn't?

Not much; I found it to be a highly enjoyable film. I could have done with leaving a little more of the... intimate... moments to the imagination, but they were, at least, artistically filmed and do illustrate the couple's passionate relationship. Plot-wise, it seems a bit odd that a random RAF Wing Commander would be tapped for a high-stakes undercover mission just the one time, then sent back to the office to his day job (whatever that is). It isn't a real issue, just one of those thing that makes you go "hmmm."

Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes

The story hinges on two things: 1) is Marianne an enemy spy and 2) if she is, will Max choose his country or his wife? It’s a great conversation starter: where does your duty lie? Which vow—to serve and protect or to love and honor—outweighs the other?

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers)

  • MPAA Rating: R for violence, some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use 
  • Language/Profanity: F-bombs are dropped, mostly in clusters; in the English subtitles at a French-speaking party "Ooh-la-la" is translated as "Oh, hell" (not, I think, the usual translation of that term). One utterance of "for Christ's sake."
  • Sexuality/Nudity: Some brief moments of partial nudity and several intense sex scenes that are somewhat tasteful but leave no doubt whatsoever what’s going on. At a party, pretty much all the guests are at it like rabbits but their behavior is more amusing than explicit. Max's sister is in a relationship with a woman, which is obvious both from their behavior and conversation; they kiss onscreen.
  • Violence/Frightening/Intense: A number of people are violently killed in various ways including shooting, grenades, and so on. In London during the blitz we see bombs dropped and a plane crash. But the real intensity comes from the plot.
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Smoking throughout (it was the Forties) and significant drinking, mostly at parties. One character is called out as a drunk and when we meet him he is decidedly intoxicated. The rating mentions "brief drug use" but it must be really brief because I don't remember it.

The Bottom Line

RECOMMENDED FOR: WWII buffs, fans of Hitchcock and classic movies like Casablanca, anyone who enjoys a character-driven tale of suspense and/or a good love story.

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Those who prefer not to see sex scenes or violence (parents should take the R rating seriously); stressed-out souls who aren't up for a couple hours of suspense.

Allied, directed by Robert Zemeckis, opened in theaters November 23, 2016; available for home viewing February 28, 2017. It runs 124 minutes and stars Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Lizzy Caplan, Jared Harris and Matthew Goode. Watch the trailer for Allied here.

Susan Ellingburg spends most days helping to create amazing live events and most nights at the movies, at rehearsals, or performing with vocal ensembles in the Dallas area. This leaves very little time for cleaning house. A natural-born Texan, Susan loves all things British, Sunday afternoon naps, cozy mysteries, traveling with friends, and cooking like a Food Network star (minus the camera crew).

Publication date: November 22, 2016