Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Matthew Goode, Lizzy Caplan
Running Time: 124 minutes
Release Date: November 25th
For a film with such pre-loaded baggage, the last thing you’d expect it to be this forgettable. Even putting aside the on-set ‘did they/didn’t they?’ sexual antics, you can’t help but separate Zemeckis’ creepy mo-cap recent past when we’re first introduced to Pitt and he’s been Benjamin Button’d into looking slightly younger than his current self, giving the actor a glossy robotic sheen that is impossible to ignore for the entire first act of the movie.
He’s thrown into Casablanca in 1942 (a ballsy move by screenwriter Steven Knight), to team up with Marion Cotillard, both spies pretending to be part of a loving married couple. They’ve been sent into a Nazi den in order to assassinate a high ranking commander and on the eve of their mission, with a slim chance of survival, they bonk in the middle of a raging sandstorm – a contender for the most ludicrously OTT sex scene in cinema history – and lust soon turns to love.
Fast-forward a year or so and they are now living as real loving married couple with a baby daughter when Pitt’s superiors (Jared Harris and Simon McBurney) inform him that they’re investigating his wife as evidence suggests she’s a double agent for the Nazis. Desperate to prove her innocence, he begins his own investigation into the allegations, all the while hiding it from her, just in case…
It’s a great tense little set-up for a romantic-thriller, and for about two-thirds of it, it works perfectly fine. Pitt and Cotillard have good – but not great – chemistry together, while Zemeckis does a decent job of putting together a handful of taut set-pieces, from biggies involving tanks and shoot-outs and crash-landing fighter planes, to the small but vital conversations in tight corners at packed house parties.
There are some oddities on display: Pitt’s sister (Lizzy Caplan) flaunts her lesbian relationship in a time when it surely would’ve turned more than a few heads, and is nothing but distracting in her presence. Likewise, Harris and McBurney are joined by Matthew Goode (almost unrecognizable until a mountain of prosthetics) in blink-and-you’ll-miss-them appearances which hint at a longer, more patient cut somewhere on the editing floor.
Most of these issues can be overlooked because Zemeckis and co are clearly having a blast going so old-school – it brings to mind Spielberg’s Bridge Of Spies, but sexier and way more fun – until the plot paints itself into a corner in the third act, and the entire momentum built up is just let go to waste. Like any movie with a set-up like this, you’ll be looking to figure out the ending before the film reveals itself, but once the film blows its secretive load, you’re left with nothing but disappointment and a hot mess.
So we like said. Huh.