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'Allied' 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review: Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard make the perfect power couple from Hollywood's yesteryear

February 22, 2017Ben MK

The year is 1942, and Brad Pitt plays Wing Commander Max Vatan, a British Special Operations Executive pilot who parachutes straight into the heart of French Morocco. His assignment: to assassinate Germany's ambassador. But to do so, he'll need the help of Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard), an undercover agent for the French Resistance. Posing as husband and wife, Max and Marianne set about their duties. What they don't count on is falling in love, and, one year later, the couple find themselves married for real and living in London with their infant daughter.

Things appear good for Max and Marianne, for despite the ever-present threat of air raids over London, they seem to be the picture of marital perfection, with Max even up for a promotion at the SOE's most top-secret division, V Section. Their domestic bliss is shattered, however, when Marianne is accused of being a German spy, sending Max on a harrowing mission to clear his wife's name. Should he fail to do so, his superiors have given him strict orders to execute her himself; and should he fail to do that, they won't hesitate to charge him with treason as well.

That essentially sums up the plot of Allied, which, on paper, reads almost like a wartime version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. On the screen, though, the outcome is decidedly more sedate, with Director Robert Zemeckis and Writer Steven Knight placing far greater emphasis on meticulously-paced drama than on thrills. In fact, aside from the fiery culmination of Max and Marianne's adventure in Morocco, the only other action sequence to speak of is a brief scene in which Max takes on a tank full of German soldiers, armed with only his wits, a grenade and a pistol.

If you're looking for good old-fashioned movie star wattage, however, you've come to the right place, as Pitt and Cotillard exude a charismatic glow reminiscent of the power couples of Hollywood's golden age. It's something that's plain to see, whether their characters are sharing a romantic sunrise on a sand dune or doing something as ordinary as sitting down to breakfast. Still, the nostalgia that Allied evokes can only carry it so far, and, eventually, the film begins to wane, rescued only by the emotional gut-punch packed by its tearful and tense finale.

Allied makes its 4K debut with an extremely fetching Ultra HD transfer that's crystal-clear and brimming with detail, bringing out the subtlety of the film's 1940s-era production and costume design. Likewise, the movie's color palette receives excellent treatment, from the earth-toned hues of French Morocco, to the greys, blues and greens of WWII London, while black levels and contrast are top-notch, granting the picture extravagant depth. Audio-wise, the dialogue and the melancholy notes of the score come through loud and clear, thanks to a sterling 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that envelopes viewers in everything from the background chatter at an outdoor cafe and the unforgiving winds of a powerful sandstorm, to the sounds of air raid sirens, explosions and anti-aircraft fire.

Paramount's two-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy and a Blu-ray copy of the film. There are no extras on the 4K disc, but the Blu-ray disc contains the following extras:

  • Story of Allied (5:13) - Screenwriter Steven Knight talks about the inspiration for his script, while the cast and the filmmakers talk about the characters and the real-life history behind the story.
  • From Stages to the Sahara: The Production Design of Allied (10:10) - A piece about the work of Production Designer Gary Freeman, from recreating Casablanca and the SOE and V Section offices, to the logistics of Max and Marianne's cottage, and the interaction between the set design and the VFX.
  • Through the Lens: Directing With Robert Zemeckis (8:49) - The cast and crew gush about working with Director Robert Zemeckis.
  • A Stitch in Time: The Costumes of Allied (8:40) - Costume Designer Joanna Johnston talks about her work on the film, from Brad Pitt's suits and Mario Cotillard's dresses, to how it all ties in with the work of Hair and Makeup Designer Daniel Phillips.
  • 'Til Death Do Us Part: Max and Marianne (5:52) - The cast and crew praise the performances of Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt.
  • Guys and Gals: The Ensemble Cast (5:22) - A look at the supporting roles played by Jared Harris, Lizzie Caplan, Daniel Betts, Charlotte Hope and Anton Lesser.
  • Lights, Pixels, ACTION! The Visual Effects of Allied (9:33) - A look at the visual techniques and effects used to bring to life the vast scope of the film, from the Sahara Desert and Morocco in the Canary Islands, to an RAF airfield and scenes of a war-ravaged London.
  • Behind the Wheel: The Vehicles of Allied (3:30) - Picture Car Coordinator Michael Geary talks about the vehicles featured in the movie, from a Humber car to a Lysander aircraft.
  • Locked and Loaded: The Weapons of Allied (3:35) - Armourer Robert Grundy talks about the weapons featured in the film (the Sten gun, the P08 Luger 9mm, the 7.65 Walther PPK, the P14 and the Mark IV Webley & Scott revolver) and the weapons training that Pitt and Cotillard underwent.
  • That Swingin' Sound: The Music of Allied (7:06) - Composer Alan Silvestri discusses his score for the film and his 33-year-long creative partnership with Zemeckis.

Allied is available from Paramount Home Entertainment as of February 28th, 2017. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The total runtime is 2 Hrs. 4 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on November 23rd, 2016.

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