Review: ALLIED

Another year, another WWII spy thriller. Ever get the feeling that all of these baby boomer directors each want their shot to relive their fascination with the airfix model Spitfires and Panza tanks of their childhoods using the filmmaker's toybox? You're not alone. This time it's Robert Zemeckis' turn.

It's 1942, and Canadian airman and spy Max Vatan is parachuted into Casablanca to rendezvous with French resistance fighter Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cottilard), where they are to pose as husband and wife to infiltrate an important Nazi soirée. They actually fall in love and move to London, where they have a child together and live happily, until British Intelligence summon Max to their offices to inform him that Marianne may in fact be a double agent leaking information to the Nazis. There will be a sting operation to confirm this, and if she is, the rules are that Max will have to execute her by his own hand.

Pitt is sorely miscast here, in a role that plays to none of his strengths; he's aiming for a George Smiley-esque unreadable introvert, but too often comes across as wondering if he's left the iron on. Which leaves the heavy lifting to Cotillard, who is thankfully wholly able to carry any scene she appears in - but even she can only do so much in a plodding storyline which is only occasionally punctuated by any intrigue or excitement.

Zemeckis, master craftsman that he is, seems to be going through the motions, more interested in the period details that the story's romantic core. Is it Steven Knight's script? Possibly, although all of the ingredients are seemingly there. It's just simply be that no-one except Cottilard is on their A-game. Consequently an early set piece made of pure Hitchcock is a highlight, but beyond that everything - including what ought to be a bit of third act derring-do - feels a bit flat and pedestrian. It looks the part, but lacks heart - which, as you can imagine for a romantic thriller, is a bit of a problem.

ALLIED is released November 23 in the US, November 25 in the UK and December 26 in Australia and NZ.