ALLIES Film Review.
Directed By Dominic Burns
Allies tells the story of a secret British commando mission, led by an American Captain - played by Julian Ovenden. It takes place five months before World War II ended and this foray, into occupied France, precedes the notorious Battle of Bulge where the end of the film credits remind us 180,000 troupes on both sides were due to die.
The commando's task is to steal some maps from the Germans. However, they're just six men and the chances of returning, if anything goes wrong, are slim.
It stars some recognisable faces from British TV, but it's the more surprising casting that catches the eye: Busted's Matt Willis more than holds his own as a salt of the earth cockney commando; and ex-Chelsea/France defender Frank Leboeuf's brief cameo as the leader of the French resistance offers promise that a bigger role a la Eric Cantona would not be beyond him.
The one inescapable weakness of this film is the bigger battle scenes. Close quarter fighting looks great. For example, the key ambush scene takes you into the mania that is the element of the surprise. However, as the expanse of the conflicts grow, the drama shrinks. Sure there's convincing explosions, stunts and special effects in isolation, but choppily edited together they don't feel as convincing as some of the more intimate fighting moments that occur.
Allies is at its best when it is focussing on individual characters and their own personal battles. A major one is Ovenden's need, as the Yank in charge, to build the trust of the British men he is leading. In particular, the forthright Scottish sergeant Harry McBain (Chris Reilly), who as the spokesperson for the group, makes his feelings known from the get-go. Their burgeoning relationship becomes an interesting sub-plot to the main mission. As their predicament worsens, they are forced to rely on each other and in the end respect one another.
Allies is a cross between a serious reminder of the fatal sacrifices made by the selfless few and a heroic action flick straight out of the pages of Boys Own/Commando Comics.