The trailer made is seem so interesting. The actors were good. The story seemed involving. I had hopes of a thriller at the level of Hitchcock.
What a disappointment. Phoned in acting, lazy direction, a plot with holes big enough that I could drive Trump’s ego through.
I can’t fully talk about this movie without talking about the ending…so if you don’t want to know run away now….
So the movie is more or less broken into three parts.
The first part is where our main characters Max (Pitt, a WWII spy from the Canadian RAF…I get they needed an excuse for him to speak perfect French, but being from Quebec is hardly ever a ringing qualification for HERO) and Marianne (Cotillard,a French spy in Casablanca) there to assassinate a German ambassador to Vichy France. This is where the problems of the movie begin because you don’t ever quite understand why so much effort would be wasted (i.e risking the lives of assets that could be used for better uses) in an effort to kill diplomat who, since he was sent to a puppet state, was probably fairly unimportant. Two lines of dialogue explaining why killing this particular Nazi was so important to risk such resources would have been nice…but none was given, leaving the impression that this was clearly concocted by the kind of people who make Military Intelligence the oxymoron it has become.
But in amongst having to hang out for 10 days Max and Marianne fall in love. 10 days. I know it doesn’t really seem that believable. Sex yes, love seems a bit much. But little in this movie is believable.
But they pull off the assassination, leave Morocco, get her into England where they marry and have a child.
Oh and while giving birth during an attack on London by the Luftwaffe, Marianne makes a bizarre confession about “This” (her being a wife and mother) being who she really is (so even before the war is over she’s trying to give herself the ‘I’m a Good German’ excuse). Only about a third of the movie in, and there is absolutely no way to read this confession as anything else than the answer to the question we all came to see. Third of the movie down, and they spoil the rest of the movie. I tried to delude myself for about 10 minutes that it was a red herring of some kind…but I just couldn’t make it work as anything but a full on confession, which really ruins the second part of the film.
The second part of the film is what we saw in the trailer. Max being told his wife is a spy, that they’re going to run a spy hunt, if information they give him to let her see winds up on the communiques to the Nazis then it’s her and he has to kill her. Followed by about an hour of him running around London and France trying to find evidence of her innocence. Once again the writers of this movie are convinced the people running British Intelligence during the war were idiots. An intelligent person would have had him go home, drop the information, and then have him report back to base as you clearly cannot under any circumstances expect a husband to not do anything while his wife is being accused of being a spy. No person would ever think you could just order the man to go about his business as if everything is okay, and that will be that. I don’t care what faith you have in people following orders, no one is going to follow that order—so you don’t give it, you get him back to base and keep him under wraps until you have evidence one way or the other. This made this entire part of the film completely unbelievable. It had moments of trying to be something like a traditional spy-thriller but it is just impossible to take seriously.
Finally the last part of the film is the worst. He finds out she’s a Nazi spy. And in these last ten minutes they make you want to feel for her. Her being conflicted, her loving him and her child, him wanting to save her. They want you to view her as a person. I have a lot of problems with viewing Nazis as people. Nazism is a special form of evil that requires you to forsake every single thing that is noble and worthy in humanity, it is to take yourself out of the human collective in a complete, and make no mistake, a very willful manner. You don’t redeem a character from that. And thus making the whole last 10-15 minutes of the film about feeling sorry for her really doesn’t work at any emotional or intellectual level. And seeing Pitt want to try and save her makes me just yearn for the good old days of Lt. Aldo Raine.
Oh and for some reason Max’s sister is also in the RAF and assigned to the same office (statistically unlikely) and she’s a lesbian and quite out about it—it’s brought up several times but seemingly for no reason whatsoever. I can only assume that some earlier version of the script made her being a lesbian a major part of the story, maybe suggesting she might be the spy and that was how she was blackmailed. I don’t know. What I do know is this random information is covered too much to be ignored and is not covered enough to actually be relevant, even as a red herring. The fact there is clearly something missing makes it really distracting.
I could be even more vicious in the fact that I think very little of Zemeckis’s ability as a director but the fact is that even a competent director couldn’t have saved this nightmare of a script.
Don’t go see this movie. Don’t waste your time. Even on Netflix. It’s not worth it.