“Allies” is a British war movie directed by Dominic Burns for the bargain basement price of $3 million. The title is a reference to the sometimes difficult relationship between the Americans and British in the European Theater in WWII. An American officer named Capt. Jackson (Julian Ovenden) is paired with a British commando team for a special mission behind enemy lines. Command dysfunction will impact the mission.
The movie is set in August, 1944. The mission is a “smash and grab” raid to capture a German general and his valuable maps. At the last moment, Jackson moves up the mission and switches the drop zone. This endears him even less to his already skeptical British comrades. They set up an ambush, but the Germans are alert and have twice as many men as they expected. In spite of that, no German survives the ambush and no Ally is scratched. The combat is of the variety that includes pulling grenade pins with the teeth and shooting machine guns from the hip. They get the maps.
We are now in “who will survive?” mode. They hook up with the French Resistance. There is an unexpectedly creative long uncut following-shot through the Resistance lair. The Resistance leader executes a woman for sleeping with the enemy. Before this can be explored, the lair is assaulted and everyone is on the run for a frenetically staged chase through a mine field. A friendly fire death is thrown in as a sop to reality. Revved up music shifts to softer for the slo-mo stroll through the mine field. We are now down to just Jackson and Sgt. McBain (Chris Reilly). They take refuge with a French lass and just to show there’s no hard feelings, Jackson convinces the girl that McBain is bed-worthy. The coitus is interruptus and the pair is on the run again with both wounded. Jackson is being slowed by his damaged toes. Nothing some wire cutters won’t cure in an amputation that is a first in war movie history. Sarge gets an Elias from “Platoon” run and there is a traitor a la “Where Eagles Dare”.
“Allies” was much better than I expected. This was partly due to the fact that although the budget was low, the two leads are respected actors who I am familiar with. Ovenden plays Charles Blake on “Downton Abbey” and Reilly is well cast as the Sarge. Burns does a good job making the move stand out among the B movie crowd. The cinematography is above average with some “Saving Private Ryan” movement, extreme close-ups, and odd angles. Burns has an “everything but the kitchen sink" mentality. The combat scenes are lively with good effects. Some of the wounds are showily graphic. The plot is based around a ridiculous mission, but at least it’s different and unpredictable. Strangely, the dysfunction theme is not really explored. It is more of a straight forward action flick, but with some intrigue thrown in to good effect. The dialogue is fine, but there is little soldier banter. We don’t really get to know any of the men besides Jackson and McBain.
“Allies” is a nice little time waster. It’s not in a league with some of the movies it cribs from, but it’s worth the watch.
GRADE = B-