The Divergent Series: Allegiant (2016)
Release Date: March 18, 2016
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Zoe Kravitz, Maggie Q, Bill Skarsgard, Naomi Watts
Director: Robert Schwentke
Studio: Red Wagon Entertainment, Summit Entertainment, Mandeville Films
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Young Adult
Review Spoilers: High
Based on Allegiant by Veronica Roth
So, the third installment to The Divergent Series is by all means not a horrible movie. I say that knowing it’s not the most flattering description. But in this world of YA remake after remake, it’s really hard to find one that stands out. The Hunger Games‘s leading film was one that really boosted the movie industry to pump out as many remakes as they could based on best selling series.
The problem being that they all kind of look like The Hunger Games and all seem to lack that special something that made the first film in the series such a success. Divergent has many of the same issues, though I would argue that the first in the series was actually really enjoyable. Tris is not nearly as unlikeable as Katniss is in the first book, and her struggles and trials have a real weight behind them.
Unfortunately, the series took a nosedive in quality in Insurgent, a sequel that took what worked in Divergent and basically took it away. It lacked a good build up to it’s climax and often got bogged down by insipid little cliches within the plot that we are all too familiar with.
While most series that follow this pattern of trilogies — or more often and in this case, quadrilogies — show a steady decline in quality as each film is released. However, despite some major setbacks in the CGI department and obviously more repeated themes and archetypes, Allegiant wasn’t actually bad.
Tris’ story is even more disjointed from her friends’ in this installment with their arrival at the Bureau of Genetic Welfare. Their escape from Chicago and from Evelyn’s rising dictatorship makes for an exciting start, as they bound across the wall and find themselves in unfamiliar territory.
This is where they work best. This series has never lacked in creative ways to show off their action stunts and tricks, and having the cast running and leaping and fighting through the majority of the film instead of philosophizing or playing diplomat is much more entertaining and useful.
As they arrive at the Bureau, they learn that their home in Chicago and the process of the factions is essentially one big experiment in order to seek out divergence and find one who is genetically pure. Stepping into the world of the Bureau is like going from one dystopia to another, only this one has better technology, a loftier and more bloodthirsty leader, and a scarier military force than tattooed teenagers who are good at parkour.
Not only are they seriously out of their depth arriving in this foreign place, but they have been surveilled and watched (*cough* Hunger Games *cough*) by nearly everyone in the Bureau, with most people regarding them more like celebrities than actual people.
As with most new places, this one isn’t exactly a paradise. Despite escaping Jeanine and then Evelyn, they are once more saddled with an oppressive leader. Jeff Daniels’ David appears welcoming and nice, which we all know means that he’s actually evil and completely cold. While Evelyn is thirsty for revenge, she seems to have something to live for. David lives in his tower far removed from his people and seems to not only regard Chicago as an experiment, but the entire section of the Bureau that he manages.
Tricked into believing that she can help fix the damaged genetic makeup of humanity that was caused by the Bureau, Tris spends more time in the movie alone with Jeff Daniels than anyone else. She begins to look more and more like Jeanine, both in appearance and separation from her friends. David smartly distances her from them, sending Caleb and Peter to do surveillance work (much to Peter’s chagrin) and sending Christina and Four to the military branch.
Coincidentally the weakest link in Insurgent is also the strongest link in Allegiant. Four, who seemed to only really play the role as “sometimes shirtless boyfriend figure” in Insurgent got back his mojo. Most of his story — and most of the film — focuses on him as he investigates the Bureau and learns about their ability to wipe memories of the children they capture from outer rim where people live on the land and in the radiation.
After learning that back in Chicago, Evelyn and Johanna are ready to go to war, Tris, Four, and the gang, rush back to help their people, deciding to abandon David, who doesn’t actually seek to help anyone, but instead wants to perpetuate the factions system and receive more funding from a council that doesn’t really have a huge role in the movie other than to tell him no. Since the whole point of Insurgent was to break away from factions, obviously this doesn’t go over well with Tris.
Their rush back to the city includes stopping Peter — as a proxy of David — from releasing the memory-wiping gas, reuniting Four and his mother, and sending a big middle finger to David back at the Bureau saying that they’re taking back their land. Of course, they’ll first have to figure out how to get rid of the millions of little cameras that are watching their every waking moment, but that’ll be something they tackle in Ascendent or most likely not.
Final Thoughts: The third installment of The Divergent Series shows a shiny new world that has become all too familiar to us and therefore delivers nothing new (and shows us that in about 300 years we’ll have eugenics but still tackle vital issues like real time video feed buffering). However, despite the predicted shortcomings, Allegiant surpasses it’s predecessor.