The Divergent Series: Allegiant (2016)
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Written by: Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Noah Oppenheim, Veronica Roth
Starring: Naomi Watts, Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoë Kravitz
IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 121 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Now that Jeanine has been killed, the notion of factions seems to have gone with her, but Tris and Four cannot live the harmonious life they wish for because Four’s mother Evelyn takes over where her predecessor left off and immediately starts a programme of mass execution of the previous regime’s supporters. Tris and Four kidnap Tris’ wayward brother Caleb from prison and, along with Peter and Christina, decide to scale the city walls and find out what lies beyond. They find themselves at the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, where Tris is lauded by the chief, David, as being ‘pure’. Howefer, their comfortability soon turns to suspicion, as they begin to worry that this haven they’ve found themselves in could be even more threatening than the war-zone they left….
There was I hoping that the Divergent series would fulfil the potential set out by its first two films, where, though being reasonably entertaining and with some good ideas and themes, there was a distinct whiff of “this’ll do”, as if they know that the target audience will lap it up [though box office appears to be declining for the series] and no real effort was needed. This third episode, which follows in the now almost obligatory tradition of being an adaptation of only the first half of the last book [though at one point three movies from it were being considered], is a little different from the first two, though the result again is a film that is undoubtedly enjoyable but falls way short of being as good as it should be, though considering that a major part of the problem with these movies is probably the source material, perhaps one should really just give up on such hopes now. Allegiance attempts a more mature tone as it incorporates a variety of often timely themes such as huge conspiracies, genetic modification, and one kind of fascism being replaced with another, but much it just seems half-baked and is undermined by laziness and even sheer stupidity, from Tris being able to fly a plane immediately despite having never even seen one before, to the frequent employment of a surveillance device which lets the viewer actually project him or herself into the location just so characters can find out things which lead to the next scene.
While Joseph Trapanese’s score drones on and on in the background repeating the same chords and patterns over and over again, never shutting up but largely seeming separate to the actual movie, director Robert Schwentke does handle the action well enough, the highlight being the wall scaling sequence on some of the posters, though the set pieces tend to be disappointingly short. The plot takes a couple of decent turns, and the climax is fairly tense, while the dreary grey-dominated look of the first two films is made less dominant by having much of the action take place on a red/purple landscape [which in itself is rather ugly to look at], but, aside from some strong moments here and there, there is a distinct lack of conviction about the whole enterprise. I don’t think these films are bad; there is certainly stuff to enjoy, and they contain some solid acting [though Shailene doesn’t seem to be too interested in the proceedings this time around], but they seem infuriatingly restricted. At least it means that one now has no right to expect too much from the final instalment, which may end up being more satisfying as a result.