Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Allegiance

Set in late 2004, shortly after President Bush began sending National Guard units to support military troops in Iraq, the indie drama Allegiance stands to fight an uphill battle against heavily promoted end-of-year features.

Dec 21, 2012

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1369598-Allegiance_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

October, 2004: Like the rest of Alpha Company 1-27, Lieutenant Danny Sefton (Seth Gabel, of TV's “Fringe”) reports to New York's Camp Sullivan, from which they're going to be redeployed to Iraq for 18 months as support for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Sadr City. But unlike the others, Sefton—a politician's son with an Ivy league degree and a lucrative Wall Street gig—isn't going overseas. He's been transferred to a cushy public-relations position and his fiancée, Leela Rai (Reshma Shetty), will be picking him up at eight a.m. tomorrow…the same time his buddies will be shipping out.

Make that former buddies…most of them pretty pissed that they're all going back, even Specialist Chris Reyes (rapper Shad "Bow Wow" Moss), an FDNY medic whose compassionate leave has been cancelled even though his little boy is dying of lung cancer; Reyes' family, unlike Sefton's, doesn't have the juice to pull any high-level strings. And the icing on the cake is that Sefton's replacement, combat veteran Lieutenant Alec Chambers (Pablo Schreiber), is a real hard-ass. Wounded during a previous tour of duty, he resigned his commission only to be recalled; he stepped up and won't be cutting anyone else any slack.

Reyes is nonetheless planning to go AWOL, and wants Sefton's help. But the stakes are higher than he realizes: Because Alpha Company is about to ship out to a combat zone, Reyes won't just be absent without leave. He'll be a full-fledged deserter, and that means dishonorable discharge, imprisonment and more, not only for Reyes but for anyone who helps him.

Allegiance began life as the short "Recalled," writer-director Michael Connors' Columbia University thesis project. A former Ranger who has said a subordinate once asked him for help in going AWOL, Connors subsequently expanded and deepened the project into a feature-length exploration of conflicting allegiances—to country, friends, conscience, duty, family, ideals and comrades in arms. To his credit, Connors is prepared to take it from both sides: He both respects the military and is sympathetic to the "backdoor draftees," whose one-weekend-a-month, home-front obligation to the National Guard turns into 18 months of active military duty overseas.

Allegiance's commitment to shades of gray translates into excellent opportunities for its cast, and to a man (Shetty is the only woman in the cast, and she's relegated to the opening and closing scenes) they take full advantage, from veteran Aidan Quinn as Lt. Colonel Owens, who's tasked with overseeing the transformation of National Guardsmen into foot soldiers who stand some chance of surviving the rigors of desert combat, to newcomer Jason Lew as battalion supply sergeant Kraft, a modern-day Sergeant Bilko.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this review erroneously stated that writer-director Michael Connors had been redeployed to Iraq.


Film Review: Allegiance

Set in late 2004, shortly after President Bush began sending National Guard units to support military troops in Iraq, the indie drama Allegiance stands to fight an uphill battle against heavily promoted end-of-year features.

Dec 21, 2012

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1369598-Allegiance_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

October, 2004: Like the rest of Alpha Company 1-27, Lieutenant Danny Sefton (Seth Gabel, of TV's “Fringe”) reports to New York's Camp Sullivan, from which they're going to be redeployed to Iraq for 18 months as support for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Sadr City. But unlike the others, Sefton—a politician's son with an Ivy league degree and a lucrative Wall Street gig—isn't going overseas. He's been transferred to a cushy public-relations position and his fiancée, Leela Rai (Reshma Shetty), will be picking him up at eight a.m. tomorrow…the same time his buddies will be shipping out.

Make that former buddies…most of them pretty pissed that they're all going back, even Specialist Chris Reyes (rapper Shad "Bow Wow" Moss), an FDNY medic whose compassionate leave has been cancelled even though his little boy is dying of lung cancer; Reyes' family, unlike Sefton's, doesn't have the juice to pull any high-level strings. And the icing on the cake is that Sefton's replacement, combat veteran Lieutenant Alec Chambers (Pablo Schreiber), is a real hard-ass. Wounded during a previous tour of duty, he resigned his commission only to be recalled; he stepped up and won't be cutting anyone else any slack.

Reyes is nonetheless planning to go AWOL, and wants Sefton's help. But the stakes are higher than he realizes: Because Alpha Company is about to ship out to a combat zone, Reyes won't just be absent without leave. He'll be a full-fledged deserter, and that means dishonorable discharge, imprisonment and more, not only for Reyes but for anyone who helps him.

Allegiance began life as the short "Recalled," writer-director Michael Connors' Columbia University thesis project. A former Ranger who has said a subordinate once asked him for help in going AWOL, Connors subsequently expanded and deepened the project into a feature-length exploration of conflicting allegiances—to country, friends, conscience, duty, family, ideals and comrades in arms. To his credit, Connors is prepared to take it from both sides: He both respects the military and is sympathetic to the "backdoor draftees," whose one-weekend-a-month, home-front obligation to the National Guard turns into 18 months of active military duty overseas.

Allegiance's commitment to shades of gray translates into excellent opportunities for its cast, and to a man (Shetty is the only woman in the cast, and she's relegated to the opening and closing scenes) they take full advantage, from veteran Aidan Quinn as Lt. Colonel Owens, who's tasked with overseeing the transformation of National Guardsmen into foot soldiers who stand some chance of surviving the rigors of desert combat, to newcomer Jason Lew as battalion supply sergeant Kraft, a modern-day Sergeant Bilko.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this review erroneously stated that writer-director Michael Connors had been redeployed to Iraq.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Small Time
Film Review: Small Time

You might not buy a used car from the guys in Small Time, but you will enjoy the movie about their exploits, even their exploitations (of others). More »

Fading Gigolo
Film Review: Fading Gigolo

Some top screen talent gets lost in the silliness surrounding the amorous adventures of an unlikely gigolo and his even more unlikely pimp, with writer/director/actor John Turturro the shtupper “ho” co-starring with Woody Allen as the mercenary shtup-enabler. Yarmulkes off to Turturro’s brave but deeply ill-conceived comedic foray into Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic community and other alien territory. More »

A Promise
Film Review: A Promise

Handsomely filmed but wan period romance. More »

Final Member
Film Review: The Final Member

Breezy documentary about the aging owner of a small Icelandic museum dedicated to penises and his quest for one last, coveted exhibit is a charmer, thanks to the warmth and sly sense of humor the protagonist brings to his unusual hobby. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Transcendence
Film Review: Transcendence

Johnny Depp is an idealistic researcher whose consciousness is uploaded into an artificial intelligence in this slick techno-thriller with delusions of seriousness from Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. More »

Draft Day
Film Review: Draft Day

Pro football manager faces crises on the most important day of his career in a well-tooled vehicle for Kevin Costner. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here