Sunday, February 26, 2017

Video review: "Allied"

I didn’t catch “Allied” when it came out in theaters for its all-too-brief run -- and I was hardly the only one who missed it. The film got lost in the shuffle of Oscar hopefuls stampeding into theaters in December and never found a large audience.

I finally caught up during my effort to see all the Academy Award nominees -- it got a well-deserved nod for costumes -- and was surprised to find a splendid war drama/romance.

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard play spies working for the British government during World War II. He’s Max, a Canadian, she’s Marianne, a French resistance legend. They meet up in North Africa, posing as a married couple, so they work hard at appearing familiar with each other -- a little too hard, it would seem.

Their assignment is to assassinate the German ambassador to Casablanca, so they know there’s a high likelihood one or both of them may not survive.

But they do, and get married and have a sweet baby girl, while Max takes an office job in London. But with the Normandy invasion coming up, his superiors start to suspect that Marianne may not be who she claims.

So he’s ordered to perform a “blue dye” operation on his wife. I’ll spare you the details, but the important part is that if she fails the test, it becomes his duty to execute Marianne -- personally. Failure to do so is considered treason.

Director Robert Zemeckis and screenwriter Steve Knight give us a gorgeous-looking movie filled with fraught sequences and keen emotional anguish. How much of Max and Marianne’s ardor is genuine, and how much is the result of circumstance and espionage intrigue? Does one’s patriotic obligation extend so far as to demand you kill the person you love?

Give “Allied” a look-see on home video, and you’ll find a well-made film that goes beyond typical spy stories.

Video extras are pretty decent, though you’ll have to shell out for the Blu-ray combo pack to get them, as the DVD version contains none.

They consist of 10 making-of featurettes: “Story of Allied,” “From Stages to the Sahara: The Production Design of Allied,” “Through the Lens: Directing with Robert Zemeckis,” “A Stitch in Time: The Costumes of Allied,” “‘Til Death Do Us Part: Max and Marianne,” “Guys and Gals: The Ensemble Cast,” “Lights, Pixels, ACTION! The Visual Effects of Allied,” “Behind the Wheel: The Vehicles of Allied,” “Locked and Loaded: The Weapons of Allied,” “That Swingin’ Sound: The Music of Allied.”



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