Robert Zemeckis, in spite of being one of the most recognisable names in mainstream American cinema thanks to his direction of the Back to the Future trilogy and Forrest Gump, has a shocking amount of severely underrated films within his oeuvre. A brief exploration of his work makes it clear that he is a director with a keen eye for visual effects and is interested in the merging of visual effects with reality within film – he directed Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the classic Neo-noir which placed the great Bob Hoskins into a world of Looney Tunes characters gone corrupt, and is also recognised for his unique animation style which can be seen in The Polar Express and (not so much) his 2009 version of A Christmas Carol.
No Zemeckis film has been much of a hit since The Polar Express, with his new releases tending to be released to a quietly positive buzz that soon fades into nothing. I’m personally partial to parts of The Walk, mainly out of personal nostalgia and a love for that final set-piece which remains a great moment on screen, but it was Zemeckis’ 2016 film Allied, which turns 5 years old this year, that stood out from the crowd a little.
While the film received the same quiet praise that the last few Zemeckis films have fallen victim to, Allied appears to gradually be amassing a well deserved cult fanbase, including the master horror director Kiyoshi Kurosawa who named the film his favourite of the last decade. Allied isn’t perfect, but the tension it amassed thanks to its brilliant merging of the ticking time bomb plot with wartime espionage is extremely deeply felt and the two lead performances from Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard are great. Don Burgess’ cinematography is inventive and fluid with movement, adding to the fast pacing and giving the film some elegance in the process.
It’s a shame that the film is only now catching on a little (and so slowly!), as it genuinely has some incredible sequences. It’s a great thriller with consistently impressive form, and is definitely one of Zemeckis’ best films. Recommended highly to any fans of either of the two stars or anyone who enjoys tension-based films.
Allied, distributed by Paramount, is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. Watch the trailer on YouTube below: