Respond to these rapid questions in our Allied quiz and we will tell you which Allied character you are. Play it now.
Since the release of “Saving Private Ryan,” which introduced previously unheard-of levels of gruesome and graphic detail to World War II combat sequences, virtually every WWII film produced since then, right up to and including the recent “Hacksaw Ridge,” has gone to great lengths to emphasize the horrors of combat and the intense physical and psychological pressures that soldiers face while fighting. “Inglourious Basterds” was an important exception to this rule, but I think we can all agree that historical accuracy was not a priority in that film’s production design. Although this is true, would Hollywood ever again produce the kind of World War II film that they used to make back in the day—the kind that combined action with politics and drama and humor and romance while being acted out by impossibly beautiful movie stars? “Allied,” the new film from Robert Zemeckis, is exactly the kind of film that I’m talking about.
While “Casablanca” isn’t quite the classic film, it is nevertheless a grandly entertaining stab at old-fashioned storytelling (albeit with levels of sex, violence, and profanity that they could never have gotten away with back in the day), buoyed by smart and stylish filmmaking, a good performance by Brad Pitt, and an even better performance by Marion Cotillard.
During the opening credits of 1942’s Casablanca, Pitt’s Canadian intelligence officer Max Vatan parachutes into North Africa and makes his way to the capital. Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard), a French Resistance fighter who will be posing as his wife and who has managed to get herself into the good graces of the local Nazi hierarchy, is assigned the mission of assassinating the German ambassador. The next few days will be spent preparing themselves for the mission while also attempting to establish themselves as a loving married couple in order to avoid arousing suspicion. However, despite their professional demeanors, there is a spark between the two of them that culminates in one of the more intriguingly staged love scenes in recent memory. After getting that out of the way, they proceed to complete their mission in an equally spectacular fashion. In the course of their escape, Max requests Marianne’s assistance in returning to London with him so that they can tie the knot.
But you shouldn’t waste any more time and start this Allied quiz.
In the following year, Max and Marianne have tied the knot and are settling into their new home in London with their infant daughter, living in as much bliss as one could hope for during World War II. All of that comes to an abrupt halt when he is summoned to S.O.E. headquarters and informed by an overbearing agent (Simon McBurney) that there is evidence to suggest that the real Marianne Beausejour was killed a couple of years earlier and that his wife is actually a German spy. Max is unable to accept this, but the evidence, while not conclusive, is quite damning in its implications. In order to put an end to the debate, he is instructed to leave some fictitious information lying around where she can find it; if it turns up in the next intercepted German communication, she will be found to be responsible. If it is discovered that she is a spy, Max will be forced to murder her. If he refuses or tries to give her a heads-up, he will be executed along with her as well. To make matters even more uncomfortable, not only is Max not permitted to conduct his own investigation during the three days it will take to gather the potentially damaging evidence, but he also has to continue living with Marianne and pretending everything is normal.
Also, you will find out which character are you in this Allied quiz.
In fact, “Allied” proudly wears the influences of several films on its impeccably tailored sleeves, including “Casablanca” (though the two films not only share a key location but also include a key scene involving the song “La Marseillaise” and a dramatic climactic scene set at an airport), as well as a slew of wartime dramas that can be found on regular rotation on TCM and several Alfred Hitchcock thrillers. However, “Allied” is more than a mash-up of elements plucked from other, superior sources; it is an original work. Writer Steven Knight, whose previous credits include such intelligent adult-oriented thrillers as “Dirty Pretty Things” and “Eastern Promises,” provides viewers with an intelligent and twisty story that generally plays fair with them and keeps them guessing about Marianne’s true identity without ever becoming too contrived or convoluted. “Dirty Pretty Things” is a smart adult-oriented thriller written by Steven Knight (though it does contain perhaps one more red herring than it can properly digest). After co-writing the screenplay for the cult classic “1941,” director Robert Zemeckis is making his first foray into WWII territory. Zemeckis is of course well-known for making films that push the boundaries of technological advancement. The fact that he manages to pull off a couple of technical tour de forces (such as Marianne giving birth during an air raid and a wild house party being interrupted by another air raid) serves to remind us that he can generate just as much suspense and excitement with nothing more than a couple of people in a room together can be just as impressive.
About the quiz
While it’s easy to forget about Zemeckis’ technical abilities, it’s important to remember that he’s also very good at extracting strong performances from his actors. “Allied” is another example of how he has elicited excellent performances from actors such as Kurt Russell (“Used Cars”), Kathleen Turner (“Romancing the Stone”), Bob Hoskins (who should have won an Oscar for his work in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”), Tom Hanks (“Forrest Gump,” “Cast Away,” and Denzel Washington (“Flight”), to name a few. And this is once again the case with this film. Pitt is excellent as Max in “Inglourious Basterds,” which is his third appearance in a WWII saga (the others being “Fury” and “Inglourious Basterds.” After being betrayed by the woman he loves, he is appropriately debonair in the early scenes (James Bond himself would be envious of his parachuting style), and convincingly anguished later on when he is tormented by the idea that he is being betrayed by her again. As for Cotillard’s performance as Marianne, she is quite remarkable, bringing such depth to her characterization that we are drawn to her in the same way that Max is, even though we are just as perplexed as he is as to her identity and intentions. We’re kept guessing throughout, and the result is yet another standout performance from one of the most talented actresses working in Hollywood right now.
Also, you must try to play this Allied quiz.
In “Allied,” everything comes together in such a precise and effective manner—including outstanding contributions from the likes of composer Alan Silvestri, cinematographer Don Burgess, and costume designer Joanna Johnston—that part of the enjoyment of watching the film is in witnessing how all of the various pieces come together in such a seemingly effortless manner. When you think about it, it’s a lovely homage to the kind of entertainment that Hollywood used to put out without breaking a sweat in the olden days, while still being strong and certain enough to work on viewers who have never seen any of the films to which it pays homage.