As Allied opens, Brad Pitt parachutes so gently and quietly onto a stretch of Moroccan desert that at first you think he might be dead. And maybe he sort of is -- maybe he has to be. Pitt's Max Vatan is a pinched, terse figure in the first act of Robert Zemeckis's World War II thriller.
Arriving in Casablanca, the Canadian assassin -- a member of Britain's Special Operations force -- meets Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), the French Resistance agent who will pretend to be his wife, as they embark on a mission to assassinate a Nazi ambassador. She knows all the rules of deception, of pretending to love someone; her face lights up when she first sees him, as if they've known and adored each other for years. When things get too intimate, he insists that sex between operatives is a mistake. She tells him, "The mistake people make in these situations isn't fucking — it's feeling."
You can maybe guess what happens next. Profanity notwithstanding, Allied is an old-fashioned romantic thriller of the sort nobody makes anymore, the kind where glamorous men and women pose as people they're not, and then discover that they've become the people they've been pretending to be, all while wondering about each other's true identities. The story has overtones of Hitchcock's Notorious and Suspicion, as well as Casablanca, and even Charade. Allied is not as good as the classics, to be sure, but like its heroes it's pretty close to what it's pretending to be. It's the kind of film you can send your parents or grandparents to the next time they complain that they don't make 'em like they used to.