Hollywood@Home: Allied

“Allied” has some nice performances, but the story is flawed.

A good-looking romantic thriller is something you don’t see very often these days, and I’m happy to report that “Allied” has the look and feel of a classic film from the 1940’s. Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard star as spies who know better than to fall in love while on a mission, but they do anyway.

The leads give great performances. The costumes and sets are first-rate. The cinematography is outstanding and takes you back to the days when movie stars ruled Hollywood. It’s a shame the story lets you down.

“Allied” begins with Canadian intelligence officer Max Vatan (Pitt) parachuting into the Moroccan desert on a mission to assassinate the German ambassador in Casablanca. He’s met by a French Resistance fighter named Marianne Beauséjour (Cotillard). Despite their best instincts, the two irresistibly good-looking spies fall hard for each other while planning the suicide mission.

The first 30 minutes or so of “Allied” proceeds nicely although the dialogue is clunky. Some of the early scenes needed rewrites.

Once the mission is over, the film makes a hard right turn into London and goes in a completely different direction. The assassination plot, which seems early on to be the central story, turns out to be only the given circumstances of the story to come. You feel almost suckered into watching the first one-third of “Allied.”

If I was constructing the story, I would have Vatan and Beauséjour meeting in London and make Morocco the climax of the film. “Allied” is allegedly based on true events, so perhaps fiction trumps real life in this case. The path the producers took makes the film seem top-heavy, action wise, and a bit awkward.

“Allied” also suffers from comparisons to the classic “Casablanca.” Let’s face it. “Casablanca” owns Casablanca. If you’re going to write a World War II romantic thriller, stay away from Morocco’s largest city and it’s night clubs. The cabaret in “Allied” only makes you think of the fictional Rick’s Café Américain. Don’t make your lead actress look like Ingrid Bergman. And, whatever you do, never reference the piano version of “La Marseillaise.” “Allied” made all these mistakes and more.

It’s too bad that Pitt and Cotillard are wasted here. If you are going to watch “Allied,” they are the main reason to do so. Grade: C-

Marion Cotillard shoots up Casablanca in “Allied.”