Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Jeff Daniels, Miles Teller, Zoë Kravitz, Naomi Watts
Director: Robert Schwentke
Allegiant is based on the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth and is the last novel in the series that has been split in two for the movie’s sake; the final instalment titled Ascendant is to be delivered in 2017. Allegiant feels very good on the surface, with classy special effects, some ultra-cool gadgetry and hyper modern landscapes. Under the surface though one feels a little cheated, as if one is being forced to hold back, as there does not seem to be too much of a forward movement despite the two-hour runtime.
The story begins with the escape of Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) and her friends Four (Theo James), Caleb Prior (Ansel Elgort), Peter (Miles Teller) and Christina (Zoë Kravitz) from the city they have forever lived in. They manage to cross the high walls and go out in the open, which is an ugly version of a nuclear holocaust, with drains carrying red water and the earth looking like the aftermath of a giant explosion and decay. They are quickly accepted by another city that apparently exists in stealth mode, surrounded by a supercool and supersized invisible wall that is built with a really advanced visual technology.
Once in this city, they are introduced to a large population living and working for the director David (Jeff Daniels). Beatrice is separated from her friends and made to feel special, as she is of pure genetic breed unlike others with damaged genomes. But soon the whole thing turns around and David turns out to be the evil guy, making it important for Beatrice and her friends to find their way back to the old city. Throughout the movie, there is rapid progression in terms of the onscreen movement, but there does not seem to be much progress as far as the characters are concerned. Their learning and understanding seems to be a subdued version of what we saw in the previous two movies.
Allegiant happens to be one more movie that draws a lot of inspiration from the concentration camps during Hitler’s regime. One cannot help but notice the sharp similarities in the treatment, sanitisation, weeding out and the decontamination process that the Nazis carried out.
In Allegiant, Beatrice and her friends are subjected to similar treatment when they arrive in the new city. She has to enter a chamber, undress, get showered with an unknown gel and then wash it off, finally finish with an identifying barcode on her wrist, each one gets a different barcode, establishing areas of access and method to differentiate. There are other similar moments and it is sad to see so many movies drawing inspiration from one of the most horrible incidents in human history, trying to recreate it with intricate designs and special effects.
As for the performances, Shailene Woodley seems to have lost her basic instinct in Allegiant, while Theo James seems to have gained it. Shailene Woodley seems to be getting in the same situation as Jennifer Lawrence in the Hunger Games — the sequels seem to be tiring them down. It is interesting to see Miles Teller in grey and eventually a dark shade. Ansel Elgort has been featured prominently towards the later half of the movie, while a new entrant Matthew (Bill Skarsgard) seems promising too.
If you have seen the previous Divergent series, then it is a good watch. I do hope that the final instalment Ascendant (2017) will be better and more intricate. For now, Allegiant seems too convoluted and forcefully sliced out of the final book to make just another sequel. It has its good moments and a lot of on-screen glamour and style, but you might be disappointed a little.