7:00 PM, 18th March, 2017
It’s 1942 and World War II is raging on. On a mission for the recently formed Allied Forces, Canadian Air Force operative Max Vatan (Pitt) parachutes into the Moroccan desert en route to Nazi-occupied Casablanca. His orders: to rendezvous with the French Resistance fighter (Cotillard) who will be posing as his wife, and then assassinate the German Ambassador. But their relationship soon becomes more than just an act, as they unexpectedly fall in love and – mission accomplished – reunite in London for their happily ever after.
All seems perfect. That is, until Max is informed by British Intelligence that his now-(real)-wife and mother to his child may in fact be a Nazi spy. As passion and romance give way to distrust and suspicion, husband and wife find themselves pitted against each other in a deadly test of loyalty, identity and love – with only the fate of the free world in the balance.
A nostalgic throwback to the likes of Casablanca and Notorious, this good old-fashioned romantic spy thriller undoubtedly delivers on the romance, spies and thrills. Sparks fly every time Pitt and Cotillard are on screen, with master storyteller Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) ensuring that his attractive leads are matched by equally sumptuous recreations of WWII-era Europe.
Unlike the films that inspired it, however, Allied isn’t likey to still be talked about in 70 years, but it’s a superb production that deserves a look by anyone who reckons they don’t make ’em like they used to.
9:14 PM, 18th March, 2017
It turns out you can’t keep a good (or even halfway decent) franchise superspy hero down these days. Xander Cage (Diesel) has been presumed dead since 2005’s xXx: State of the Union (which replaced Diesel with Ice Cube), but really he’s in self-imposed exile – only occasionally participating in extreme stunts in privacy just for his own entertainment. But when the world is threatened by a powerful weapon called ‘Pandora’s Box’, Cage has to, as the title suggests, return to fight the bad guys with the help of a gang of similarly thrill-seeking cohorts, indulging in a whole heap of wild activities on their way to saving everyone.
2002’s xXx isn’t exactly a classic of the action genre, but it does offer plentiful ridiculous stunts which keep it quite entertaining anyway. Diesel is meat-headed enough, Samuel L. Jackson’s got the quips and the authority, and it’s only those poor fools who are looking for comprehensible plots and depth who are left out. This belated sequel gives us a new mob of lunkheads to join Diesel’s team – Australia’s Ruby Rose is there to be dangerous and flirty with the ladies, Rory McCann from “Game of Thrones” is a nutcase driver, and Nina Dobrev from “Vampire Diaries” is the techy geek.
If you’re going to hate that the plot is somewhere between ludicrous and non-existent, this is not your movie. If you’re going to sit back and enjoy the explosions, this is your movie.