(M) Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Naomi Watts
After a war ends, history shows that a leadership vacuum occurs in many of the countries that are left to clean up afterwards. In the world of the Divergent franchise, the battle for Chicago has ended. A division has been created and, in Allegiant, there is a fight for leadership of the last known city on Earth. In this new chaotic world order, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) must determine what their roles will be among new factions. They really have three choices: follow Evelyn (Naomi Watts) and the path to violence and rebellion; follow after the path of peace and tranquility with Johanna (Octavia Spencer); or leave it all behind and go beyond the “wall”. The two women of power. Evelyn and Johanna, have differing views of how the population should be ruled and order restored.
For fans of the Divergent series, Allegiant is the first offering of the final chapter in the journey of these revolutionary friends. That’s right: another big-budget franchise has had its final chapter split into two films (like Harry Potter, The Hobbit and The Hunger Games). Outside of explaining how only pretty people survive in the post-apocalyptic society, the biggest barrier for this series is trying to find something new to say in the busy market of young adult dramas.
As Allegiant plays out, its twists and turns seem like familiar territory, due to the emotion-filled stories and escape plans of Twilight, The Hunger Games and Maze Runner. Having directed the previous Divergent instalment, Insurgent, Robert Schwenkte has an uphill battle to provide viewers with a fresh look at a tired formula. He does seem to lift his game a bit with this outing, working hard to develop the world of post-apocalyptic Chicago. The special effects are solid and provide the backdrop essential to building the fantasy world around the multitude of players. It is admirable, but not earth-shatteringly new.
The primary strength of Allegiant is found in the acting capabilities of the cast. Woodley and James maintain their steely demeanour which propels the brooding drama ahead. Still nothing new, but it is the supporting cast that provides the highlights. Miles Teller (Whiplash) impeccably conveys the humorous portions of the anaemic screenplay. Even though he has limited screen time, he captures the audience’s attention any time he shows up. Teller is a shining light, but the best addition to this fateful series is the thespian force of Jeff Daniels (The Martian). He delivers the right level of likability to balance out the eventual dark side that he reveals. His edginess makes up for the weaker adversarial performance of Naomi Watts, which never achieves the menacing level expected for the leader of a rebellion.
The makers of this series have a challenge to lift this series over the wall of mediocrity. The Allegiant novel may have contained originality when published, but it seems destined to be left in the dust of comparison of other movie series from this genre. It was more compelling than Insurgent, but did not break through any glass ceilings of film-making.
Better than Insurgent, but not as good as Divergent. If that is the best to be said of Allegiant, it is hard to look forward to the final instalment of this series.
What are the bigger questions to consider from this film?
Trust. It is a word that is essential for human relations to flourish. The challenge is to know who to trust. Throughout Allegiant, the question comes back to knowing who to trust when things are at their worst. This can be said of real life, too. It is not hard to realise that most people will fail in this area at some point. Yet, what is known of the God of the Bible is that he is the only one that is truly trustworthy. If you are looking for someone to trust, how about picking up the Bible and finding the only truly trustworthy being in existence?
- How will the world come to an end? (Matthew, 24:36, Revelation 20:1-15)
- Should we rebel against bad leadership? (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17)
- How can we know that the God of the Bible is trustworthy? (Psalms 33:4-6, Romans 1:18-20)