I was completely surprised how much I enjoyed 'Allegiance', a movie starring Bow Wow. I didn't expect to like it, but I was thrown for a loop with its great story and amazing characters. Most of the movies I've seen over the past few years dealing with the war in Iraq tend to lean towards the political and actual combat scenes to fuel its stories. However, this time, we get more of a "prison escape" film as director Michael Connors explains it, and is very refreshing and original to the genre.
Connors, like most of the crew of the film were actual officers in the military at one point and have served time. They all went through each minute detail to make this as realistic as possible and to pay respects and honor their fellow soldiers. It was quite impressive. And after listening to the commentary, it turns out this was based on a real story that Connors knew of and witnessed, and which he also made into a short film, which led to this feature length movie. It seems he originally wanted to make an epic war trilogy, but due to lack of funds, he settled on this amazing story, which takes place all on a military base. It made me a bit claustrophobic, which was great, since the film centers around an escape from a highly guarded area.
'Allegiance' takes place over the course of 24 hours. We start out with a glimpse of what is to happen. Then we rewind to see the events leading up to what we just witnessed. It's a great way to begin. This glimpse shows a man running fast from a bunch of his pursuers to stop and hide for a second to catch his breath...then we rewind.
We see that we are in the year 2004 and that the National Guard units are being called into active duty to be deployed to Iraq in order to fight the war for an extended amount of time. At Camp Sullivan in New York, the entire base is gearing up to ship off for the Middle East, except Lt. Danny Sefton (Seth Gabel), who is an officer that is being transferred to a desk job upstate. His comrades do not take kindly to this as they think his wealthy family has been pulling strings for him to stay on native soil.
Sefton's Captain, Angelo (Dominic Fumusa) is relieved when a last minute replacement for Sefton arrives by the name of Lt. Alec Chambers (Pablo Schreiber), a by-the-books hard nosed West Point graduate who has many medals and commendations. However, this particular unit's medic, Chris Reyes (Bow Wow), is called into action. Reyes's son has cancer, and according to their doctor, won't make it till his dad returns home. Reyes enlists the help of Lt. Sefton to apply for a compassionate reassignment, meaning Reyes would work for the army, but not have to deploy so he could be near his dying son. However, the day day before he is supposed to ship off, Colonel Owens (Aidan Quinn) denies his request. Now Reyes asks Sefton for his help to escape the army base so he can be with his son and family.
Much of the film is spent planning and executing an escape from a heavily armed and guarded army base. There are quite a bit of very tense scenes throughout the movie that will leave you on the edge of your seat. One thing different about this type of film is that there is really no big antagonist in this movie as everyone is a good and decent human, but just make different choices when following orders. There is nobody you really hate in the movie, which might not seem good for conflict, but it is pulled off very well.
The direction is great and the performances are top notch by everyone. The amount of detail that went into this small film is incredible. You will actually feel like you are trapped in a hot situation with Reyes. The script is good and is overall a great addition to the war and prison escape genres. If you're looking for big epic action sequences, this is not the movie for you. However, if you are looking for stunning characters and and great and intense story, then definitely watch this.
'Allegiance' comes with a very good 1080p HD transfer in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The film was shot digitally on the Red Camera, but still looks a little filmic here and there.
Pretty much all of the film takes place in one central location, giving the audience a sense of claustrophobia, and it is set on an army base, void of any bright colors. The detail however looks amazing as you can make out tiny imperfections throughout the film. The depth is also quite good throughout the flick. The blacks run deep and inky for the most part which clearly shows the shadow detail.
I did not notice any edge enhancement, aliasing or artifacting, making this video presentation a solid one, despite its lack of bright colors.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and sounds good for what it is. Being a film in the war genre, this doesn't pack a punch, but this is not that type of movie. Instead of a tons of action war scenes, this plays out like a slow escape film that deals more with dialogue and quieter ambient noises. The dialogue is crystal clear and is centered on the fronts nicely. The ambient noises sound good enough but are a little quiet here and there throughout the rears, but we get them none-the-less. The score is solid and never drowns out the sound effects or dialogue. This was a decent audio mix.
'Allegiance' is one hell of a movie. It's tense, thrilling, and fun to watch. It offers a different look at the modern war genre and is quite refreshing in that respect. The video and audio are solid with a very good commentary track. Despite its lack of extras, this movie receives my recommendation. One of the better motion pictures I've seen set during the Iraq war with solid performances from everyone.