Allegiance: Film Review

This military-set  thriller displays more passion than filmmaking savvy.

Michael Connors' 2004-set military drama concerns a National Guardsman scheming to help a fellow soldier go AWOL.

Michael Connors’ indie drama boasts that it was “written, directed, produced and financed almost entirely by veterans.” That certainly provides an air of verisimilitude to this tale of a National Guardsman attempting to help a fellow soldier go AWOL. Unfortunately, Allegiance is less sure-footed in the filmmaking department, rendering its potentially suspenseful storyline stilted and uncompelling.

Set in 2004 when National Guardsmen were being tapped to fight on the front lines of the Iraq War, the film concerns the crisis of conscience faced by Lieutenant Danny Sefton (Seth Gabel), a Wall Street trader whose familial connections has landed him a cushy military public-relations post. But despite the safety of his position, he goes out on a limb to help Specialist Chris Reyes (Shad “Bow WowMoss), a medic deemed so necessary to the war effort that he’s denied compassionate leave to spend time with his terminally ill young son.   

The ensuing melodrama pits the wily Sefton against such gung-ho military types as the unit’s leader, Colonel Howe (Aidan Quinn), and especially the fierce Lieutenant Chambers (Pablo Schreiber), who’s seething with resentment because of being called back to active duty after having already served two tours of duty.

Arriving a bit too late to score points for topicality (many of the same themes were addressed in 2008’s Stop-Loss), the film, although clearly passionate in its attempt to explore issues relating to today’s military, suffers from clunky plot contrivances and clichéd characterizations. Director/screenwriter Connors isn’t able to whip much narrative suspense from the hokey material, and the drab visual style — the film is shot in the sort of green and brown tones that make for excellent camouflage but wearisome viewing — is no help.  

With the exception of Gabel (TV’s Fringe), who delivers a thoughtful, restrained turn, the rest of the nearly all-male ensemble chews the scenery with testosterone-infused gusto.

Opens: Friday, Dec. 28 (XLrator Media)             
Production: Five by Eight Productions, Hardball Entertainment
Cast: Seth Gabel, Pablo Schreiber, Aidan Quinn, Shad “Bow Wow” Moss, Malik Yoba, Dominic Fumusa, Jason Lew
Director/screenwriter: Michael Connors
Producers: Daryl Freimark, Sean Mullin
Executive producer: John Patrick Boyle
Director of photography: Danny Vecchione
Editor: Jonathan Schwartz
Production designer: Laurie Hicks
Costume designer: Kama K. Royz
Composer: Immediate Music
Not rated, 93 min.