Closing the series, this expensive YA sci-fi remains predictably hokey, as the increasingly bland Tris (Shalene Woodley) and action-eye-candy Four (Theo James) lead the Divergent crew into the wasteland beyond the city walls. If they’re unlucky, they’ll meet the Scorch Triallers coming one way and the Hunger Gamers coming the other. But it will all be fine in the safe hands of the gently benevolent Jeff Daniels (Looper). Won’t it?
Well, it would if they just shot him in the first ten minutes – with all the banging, crashing and thumping, with the big gun and bomb fetish in this, why not? It would save the rest of us two hours. Because, after the big reveal in Insurgent that faction-led Chicago is all a big social-science experiment, this was never going to be an easy stroll in the park. The post-WWIII, Mad Max ‘Fringe’ landscape is punctuated with glittering Tomorrowland cities, but it’s all run by a demented, amoral oligarchy no better than the dictatorships and evil corporations of the other YA franchises listed above.
Back in post-devastation Chicago, with revolutionary fervour, the Factionless exact their bloody revenge on the former faction leaders with kangaroo courts and summary executions; an unconvincing Naomi Watts leds an ugly proletarian mob, occupying the same totalitarian position as Kate Winslet’s former technocrat; plus ca change…
So beneath all the dazzling sci-fi-techno-porn, CGI, hoverships, and video game war-toys, Allegiant, with it’s snappy but meaningless title, has an entirely hum-drum, seen-it-all-before adventure plot. Poorly strung together, with some honkingly bad dialogue, I didn’t care that much about the cast in the first two movies, and I care even less now. Woodley’s permanently pensive expression (she’s so vulnerable, don’t you know) sits ill with her all-action, all-the-time super-heroine character; scratch the surface we’re in about the same place as the uncomfortably messianic Keanu-nu-nu in The Matrix. Theo James kicks, punches, stabs and shoots his way out of trouble about every twenty minutes; James Bond audition? Check.
Miles Teller continues to irritate as the smart-mouth turn-coat Peter, while Ansel Elgort’s Caleb is the same, wet-weekend-faced geek we started with.
And then there’s oily Jeff Daniels; a class act, underplaying for all he’s worth in the thankless role of Bond villain.
There’s a lot of blather about equality and treating everyone the same; eugenics, genetics, the needs of the many, blah, blah, blah; but we’ll happily lose all that in a good shootout or punch up or hovership crash.
Allegiant is a glossy but empty world in which to pass the time. Worryingly, the whole message of this series is to distrust education, science, or any kind of peaceful co-existence because only bad things happen. It’s not a particularly hopeful message for the YA audience. I only hope the books were better. I’m going to re-watch The Host. RC
Director: Robert Schwentke
Writers: Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Stephen Chbosky
Genre: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Running time: 120 minutes
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Jeff Daniels, Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts, Ansel Elgort, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Daniel Dae Kim