“Break the Boundaries of Your World”
Directed by Robert Schwenke
Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Zoë Kravitz, Maggie Q, Bill Skarsgård, Octavia Spencer and Naomi Watts
Having overthrown the fiendish academic oligarchy of Jeanine in Divergent and Insurgent, Tris (Woodley) and Four (James) find the city in the grip of a mania for frontier justice led by Four’s figuratively trigger-happy mother, Evelyn (Watts) and her literally trigger-happy goon Edgar (Jonny Weston), and opposed by almost-literal Earth mother Johanna (Spencer). Instead of signing on with the new order or attempting to moderate it, they opt to break out of the walled city of Chicago to accept the invitation left for them in the Divergent Box.
In the outside world, they fall in with the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, a group who couldn’t be more suspect if they actually had the word Eugenics in their name. Tris works with the Bureau’s Director, David (Daniels) to try to persuade the Council who rule the outer world of ‘pure’ humans that the ‘damaged’ can be saved, while her brother Caleb (Elgort) and annoying frenemy Peter (Teller) are assigned to monitor the deteriorating situation in the city and Four and BFF Christina (Kravitz) are recruited to the Bureau special forces who round up damaged children from the wasteland, separate them from their parents and wipe their minds before bringing them back to be raised by the Bureau.
Generally disapproving of this sort of thing, and piqued by David’s plan to help out with the troubles in Chicago by sending Peter to persuade Evelyn to gas everyone with the memory spray so he can reconstruct the Faction system. Four escapes and is captured by his mother’s goons, so Tris, Christina and Caleb head back to be unstoppable commandos for peace!
What’s wrong with it?
I don’t really remember who these people are. I know there was a faction system that was supposed to lead to some sort of socially useful outcome, but apparently that outcome is the stabilisation of a human genome fucked nine ways from Sunday, because… I really don’t know. If the factional temperaments are supposed to be the result of genetic manipulation, then surely encouraging cross-faction marriage would have worked better?
Tris spends most of the movie becoming a passive tool of David’s ambition, blowing off Four’s advice and generally being some sort of hapless, easily-led Pollyanna instead of the hard-nosed determinator we were told she was in the earlier films.
This is especially off seeing how her welcome to Shinytown is so obviously creepy (the breakout team are separated and put through a pervy, discomforting decontamination sequence with an unseen superviser telling them to do things without explaining that, for example, they’re going to be coated in a cleaning gel which will make it briefly, you know, impossible to breathe.
Cool, Dauntless veteran Tori (Q) is part of the breakout, but once they reach the top of the wall she pauses, almost as if waiting to be poignantly shot in the back; which she is.
There are a number of things in the film that aren’t really explored, since as is de rigeur these days the final book has become two movies. Or will do if they make the last one, which is looking doubtful at time of writing.
David demonstrates near total surveillance of Chicago, and remote control over all the doors in the Erudite tower, yet the all-important memory-scrub, do-over failsafe needs an unreliable douchebag to go into the city and persuade the unstable majority leader of a civil war riven populace to activate it. And then they can remote override and flood the failsafe vault with gas as well, but the basic control is all local.
What’s right with it?
It’s pretty, as are the actors.
The Bureau body suits with their remote drones and holographic headsets are pretty nifty.
How bad is it really?
So, I suppose I should say to start with that I didn’t hate the first two movies like Skerryflower did, although they definitely had their problems. Perhaps the main one was that they were kind of forgettable. I really struggled to remember who anyone apart from the leads was in this one. That being said, Allegiant really struggles, in no small part from spunky scrapper Tris becoming a drippy political tool for most of the film’s length and ignoring anyone giving her better advice than David. It’s a good looking film, but there are just too many head-scratchers in the plot.
Best bit (if such there is)?
The scene where Tris and Christina plough through Evelyn’s guards with their fancy drone suits is hilarious; just a shame that it’s basically the dramatic climax of the film.
What’s up with…?
- Tori’s death? I swear, it’s so telegraphed it’s not even funny.
- The locally-operated failsafe in the city designed to be unreachable from outside? Seriously; the security forces can’t even follow escapees through the camoflage wall, because only specific ships and Mr Fantastic are allowed through.
Production values – The advantage of a triumph of style over substance is that you do have a fair bit of style on hand. Allegiant is a pretty film, that much I won’t try to deny. 6
Dialogue and performances – There are no bad actors in this film, although that’s not to say there are no bad performances. Woodley and James are pretty bland, but part of that is the lacklustre writing. 13
Plot and execution – Oh man. The plot of the first two films suffered from their incompleteness. The Faction system really only makes sense at all once the nature of the experiment is revealed, for example. In Allegiant, however, the plot makes little sense even with the big picture revealed, with so just many aspects of the action existing only for their own sake. 17
Randomness – As noted above, there are a lot of things present because they facilitate the plot, despite not making much sense. 12
Waste of potential – Well, this has gone downhill from what was already the poor man’s Hunger Games. 10