ALLEGIANCE – Blu-ray review

Taking place in 2004, “Allegiance” involves a small National Guard unit stationed at Camp Sullivan in New York state who is about to be deployed to Iraq due to a lack of military manpower. One of the unit’s best, Lieutenant Danny Sefton (Seth Gabel), will not be joining the rest over to Iraq as he has arranged a safe desk job stateside. Obviously this has put a strain on his relationship with his fellow unit members. As the unit gets ready for departure, another member, Chris Reyes (Bow Wow) is struggling with the idea of leaving his sick son behind to serve 18 months overseas.  The kicker is that his son is only projected to live for about six more months.  After being rejected for a reassignment that would keep him local, he is expected to leave with the rest of his unit in the morning.  During the next 24 hours, a plan is attempted for him to go AWOL so he can see his son at any cost.

This is Michael Connors first full length feature film which is based on a shorter film (16 minutes) of his entitled “Recalled”.  Connors is able to flesh out the concept of soldiers helping one of their own go AWOL into a 90 minute film and mostly successful. Being a small, independent film, some of the usual suspects are present such as mediocre acting, questionable character motivations and filler material that is not needed for story context but instead it’s there to make the movie “feature length”.  One of the film’s benefits is that it takes place over the course of a 24 hour period which helps give the film a sense of urgency.  After a relatively slow beginning, the send half turns into a chase movie fueled by high octane music.

On a technical level, “Allegiance” is a small yet reliably made movie.  It is mostly filmed using a handheld camera style which helps give some documentary-like realism.  As for the script, it mostly stays on task letting the events naturally play out.  Compared to the second half, the first half is sluggishly slow as it sets up the story.  Some of the gallows talk seems forced as if Connors wants to shove down our throats that this-is-how-it-is.  The main leads are all successful in the roles with only the secondary and tertiary actors delivering the cringeworthy dialogue.  The soundtrack is the real winner here with the techno based chase music delivering some breathless scenes.

Video:
Housed on a 25 GB disc, the “Allegiance” Blu-ray is presented in a 2:35 format.  This is a severely color desaturated movie, to the point where it looks like it could be in black and white. From time to time colors seem a little more vibrant but it does not last long.  Even though the film is heavily filtered, there is no loss of detail.  The image itself is crisp and contains much HD detail.

Audio:

English 5.1 DTS-HA Master Audio is a much more complete HD experience than the video. Throughout the entire movie there is a lot of ambient activity, mostly in the form of people barking commands in the background and the regular incessant military sounds on the base like choppers, planes, trucks in the distance.  The aforementioned techno-like mood music supplies a nice low end which helps add to the intensity of the scenes.

Extras:
There are three extras on the disc, the first of which is a commentary with the director Connors, the main lead Seth Gabel and the producer Sean Mullin. There was a heavy military contribution in the film as many people associated with the production were, at some point, in the military themselves.  Anyone who has a real interest in this field will want to take a listen.  The second extra is a five minute promo piece entitles The Making of Allegiance.  Not much here but standard, quick info.  Last is an HD trailer for the film itself.

Bottom Line:
“Allegiance” can have many different meanings depending on what idea it is getting behind.  Here, Lt. Sefton has to find out where his allegiance lies, with his duty to his country or with a more morally based, personal mission for a unit brother. It plays out naturally with a visceral feel throughout and asks some tough questions that will make viewers think.  The video and audio are perfectly acceptable considering its low budget nature.  Military absorbists and fans of chase films will want to check this out.

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