The final book of which the Divergent films are based on has been split into two movies, and part one, which is called Allegiant, has arrived.
The movie picks up where Insurgent had ended, with Evelyn (Naomi Watts) and Johanna (Octavia Spencer) in charge of the new, faction-less Chicago. The two butt heads, however, on how to judge the former Erudite, or those who aided Jeanine in the fascist governmental system that Chicago was run under before. Evelyn decides that killing the Erudite is the only way justice is served, Johanna disagrees strongly, and the two know that they can’t work together from then on. And a new inner conflict in the fledgling leadership is born—Chicago is battling itself again. From this, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her gang of Divergent friends know that they have to leave Chicago and discover if there’s really life waiting for them outside the foreboding city walls. After some light casualties (Maggie Q’s character dies, because, you know, sacrifices have to be made), they finally make it over the wall. And is picked up by members of the outside world, all of whom know the Chicagoites’ names and stories, for some reason—but we aren’t kept in the dark for long: it turns out Chicago is really a large experiment that the world had been watching for centuries. But who are these people? Can Tris trust them? What’s going to happen to the people they love that are still in war-torn Chicago? And will Four (Theo James) and Tris’s relationship survive it all?
Taking visual cues from last year’s Mad Max: Fury Road, the screen is often vibrant and awash in intense reds or blues. The visual storytelling had taken a departure from the previous films, which were more muted in their palettes. It’s admirable what they’re trying to do, as the way the camera moves and production design is all beautiful and surprisingly noteworthy. It’s too bad that Allegiant gets too carried away in its plot (which is, by the way, set up in a differently from the books in a way that could mean a complete shift in the ending for the next movie) and action movie tropes to form a real world in the way that Mad Max does. There are some questions that I have for the people who made this movie, who for some reason just doesn’t seem to care enough about its audience to fix easy problems. For example: if the movie picks up right after Insurgent, why is Tris suddenly blonde? She doesn’t seem to be the kind of girl who, after exposing the corrupt fabric of the government in a life or death battle, would immediately decide to go to the salon after and ask for some highlights. Granted, it looks great, but isn’t that inconsistent with the character? Also, why did no one care when Tori died? Why do the Bureau of Genetric Welfare soldiers bully Four so much and not want to let him on the mission to the Fringe when you can see Christina (who is also supposed to be “damaged”) standing literally right next to him and no one says a word to her?
Despite the discrepancies, the Allegiant is definitely entertaining. The movie carries the audience along with a fast paced, easy rhythm that’s compulsively watchable—and the eye candy-worthy cast certainly helps (shout out to everyone’s Michael Bay spray tans—two action movie tropes we’re working with now). The only problem is that the movie takes itself very, very seriously (this is life or death, people) while also not caring enough to really invest in the reality of its world—but rather cares more about making it nice to look at. In a story that’s about some seriously messed up problems with deadly consequences, it would be nice if the danger actually felt real at some point.