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Allied


ALLIED is in many ways a rarity. First, by being a big-budget, old school thriller aimed squarely at adult movie goers.

The film opens in 1942, with a dialogue-free ten minute sequence in which intelligence officer Max Vatan parachutes into the Moroccan desert and makes his way to a rendezvous with his undercover contact, who brings him to Casablanca.

As he will throughout the beautiful looking film, Director Robert Zemeckis creates the WW2 era down to the last visual nugget, digitally and flawlessly painting Casablanca and London in their wartime glory and madness.

Max (a terrific Brad Pitt) meets his fellow operative, French resistance agent Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard oozing Bacall grace) and they cultivate their undercover roles as husband and wife.

In ten days, they are to assasinate a high ranking Nazi ambassador at a state event.

The first hour of the film builds toward that operation and its taut, tense and yet leisurely.

Two standouts of the first half are August Diehl as SS Officer Hobar, who the couple must meet and secure an invitation from to the event where the assassination will take place.

Diehl's Hobar will be fascinating to film buffs, as he plays a very similar role to the SS officer he played perfectly in Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds". In that film, his Major Hellstrom was a tightly wound SS officer who stood between our heroes and their planned attack on the Nazi high command. Here, the connections to that role are startling, including a card game that comes into play in each film. In both, Diehl is humorous and menacing in all the right ways. Great performance.

The second standout is the scene with Max and Marianne in their car as a sandstorm envelopes them. The sound and fury of what happens outside the car, matched to the passion inside of it, set to a camera that never stops whirling around them, is pure Zemeckis and fantastic.

The second half of the film is nearly a different picture all together, as Max and Marianne begin a life together in London.

Its a perfect recreation of a war torn London, with nightly massive air attacks by the Nazis and the English people refusing to give into the assault.

Since it's all in the trailers, I'm not giving anything away by telling you that Max and Marianne are now husband and wife with a beautiful baby girl.

Max is stunned one idyllic day to be summoned to headquarters and told that intelligence believes that Marianne is a German spy, implanted back in Casablanca and now reporting back on everything that Max shares with her.

I'll say nothing about where the film goes from there.

As Max's world is shattered by paranoia and doubt, Pitt is terrific, making you feel his anguish as he battles his own mind in trusting his beloved wife, while starting to watch her every move and question her actions.

You'll flip back and forth ten times in the final half hour between who to believe.

The ending is a somehow perfect balance between the accusations and the truth, incredibly moving and powerful.

ALLIED is that rare film less concerned with action than storytelling. It plays much more like Hitchcock's "Saboteur" than any film of the past fifty years.

Zemeckis creates worlds. In last year's hugely unappreciated "The Walk" he recreated 1970's NYC and the Trade Center towers. He's taken you back to the 50's for "Back to the Future" and to a lonely island with Tom Hanks and Wilson in "Castaway".

Here he takes you back to a different time, when movies could take their time to build the stories of two smart people, falling in love while they fight for their countries.

As Marianne says early in the film, the trouble for agents in any conflict is when they start "feeling".

ALLIED stages massive action sequences with perfection, but the scenes that will stay with you are those in which Max and Marianne begin to let down their guard and show their feelings.

Whether those feelings are real or not is for Zemeckis to powerfully unwrap and you to enjoy.

ALLIED gets an A.

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