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Propaganda movies: “Allied” with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard

You have to wonder why a lot of video games, Hollywood movies, shows and documentaries during the last few years focus on World War 2 and the cold war. Blockbusters nowadays are films like “Dunkirk” or the upcoming “Darkest Hour” with Gary Oldman playing Winston Churchill. Are audiences being prepared for hard times ahead?

“Allied” with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard is nicely split up between a war movie, an action picture, character drama and spy plot, so there surely is enough to keep the audience interested and guessing the fate of the main characters.

Pitt (who is at least 15 years too old for his role) plays the Canadian intelligence officer Max Vatan who meets Marianne, a French Resistance fighter played by Marion Cotillard, hitting it off on assignment in Morocco. There is a bit of Bond glamour at first, due to the exotic location, the lush parties, sex and slightly wacky villains, but the mission soon climaxes in a bloody shootout that looks extremely convincing.

Britains “V section” vets Marianne to come to London, marry Max and become a bored mother and housewife. But soon afterwards, Max gets told that Marianne might not be Marianne at all, but instead a German spy. A tests shall determine the truth and in case she is guilty, Max has to shoot her himself or be hanged for treason.

He is expressly forbidden to investigate the matter himself which of course means he does a lot of investigating, thereby doubting his own sanity and the sanity of the British system. There are more action scenes and lots of enjoyable character moments, so that the movie never becomes a boring-to-watch “hunt for the mole”. Is Marianne a traitor or is Max just being tested and groomed to become a member of section V himself?

Both Pitt and Cotillard are rumored to be critical thinkers, with the latter having publicly expressed doubt about the 9/11 terror attacks. “Allied” gives the audience a good hard look at the insanity and paranoia of such times, without of course selving too much into the historical conspiracies that are much bigger than the spy case presented in the plot.

A movie like this can lead to interesting conversations and reading of actual (paper) history books which include better plots and character stories than Hollywood could ever come up with. Allied is a pretty looking movie with a great cast and unmemorable music. A strong musical theme could have helped even though it seems to be out of style in today’s Hollywood. Not necessarily Titanic-style level of Schmalz, but at least something that has a recognizable melody. The plot could have been extended by another two or three chapters, but something like that is not going to happen unless your main cast is in its early twenties.

Do yourself a favor: Pass up on the dumb movies and watch “Allied” instead. Just don’t think afterwards you have a grasp on the true extent of the spy game.

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