The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1 begins the final chapter in Tris’ journey as a Divergent in post-apocalyptic Chicago.
In true YA adaptation fashion, the final book is split into two movies. Why tell a story in 90 mins when you can tell it in 240 mins? Part 1 picks up right after the events of 2015’s Insurgent. Despite the message that spoke of hope outside of Chicago’s walls, Evelyn (Naomi Watts) refuses to opens the gates. Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her beau Four (Theo James) decide escape while Evelyn puts anyone who assisted Jeanine on “trial” aka she’s publicly executing them. During Four and Tris’ daring escape they’re joined by Christina (Zoe Kravitz), Peter (Miles Teller), and her bumbling brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort).
Tris and her group’s dystopian road trip leads them to The Bureau of Genetic Welfare and their leader David (Jeff Daniels). The bureau is housed in what use to be O’Hare International Airport – it’s in the middle of a red dirt nuclear wasteland. Some parts look like a post apocalyptic airport, others look like Tomorrowland. David informs the group they’ve been under surveillance by the bureau for years for years (kind of creepy) and Tris is the key to helping the group. Tris is “100% pure” (very creepy) and is the key to show the people of Providence that’s its ok to intervene and help bring peace to Chicago.
Of course, David isn’t being exactly honest about what’s happening. It wouldn’t be a Divergent film if someone wasn’t lying to Tris about their intentions. Seriously, everyone Tris trusted lied to her. They lie to her face and she falls for it every time. I guess Divergent is post apocalyptic for gullible.
As the truth starts to unveil itself, Tris and the group must find a way to help the people in Chicago before it’s too late.
Allegiant being Part 1 of a finale really puts the film at a disadvantage. No matter how hard the story tries, it can’t be anything more than a 121 min alley-oop to the last film. The plot feels longer than it needs to be and every plot line is stretched thin. Even the finale involves a ridiculous number of countdowns and a big doomsday button. It’s a movie that presents a lot of questions about the new world Tris lives in and the people she meets…and has no intentions of answering any of those questions.
There are parts of Allegiant that are entertaining like Peter’s constant wisecracks/slimy demeanor and the way Caleb’s framed as incredibly useless and a 1000% liability to the group. The story really goes out of its way to make him look like a Red Shirt from Star Trek.
Most of the film plays like a bad parody of other sci-fi films. There’s the immediate comparison to fellow YA novel Maze Runner, David’s spaceship looks like Oblivion concept art, Tris being “the one” is a vigorous head nod to The Matrix, Four’s airplane fight reminded me a lot of Captain America’s elevator fight in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Jeff Daniels is doing his best President Snow impersonation.
What sticks out the most in the third installment: The Divergent Series has created a world that’s not consistent at all. David can control things in Chicago but can’t stop his personal plane from flying. Or how the bureau has top notch surveillance, yet Tris and her pals can sneak around the base without anybody noticing. Really? Not one person was watching the new people. Nobody thought to keep tabs on them?
Despite my friend insisting Tris knowing how to walk in heels being the most implausible thing in a film that also includes people floating in bubbles, the most ridiculous scene involved Tris knowing how to fly a futuristic plane. HOW? She just found out planes existed 36 hours prior, how does she know how to fly? They’re really trying to make her the YA version of Neo.
Despite Director Robert Schwentke’s (Insurgent, R.I.P.D, Flightplan) best efforts, plot holes like the ones mentioned above and a lack of originally that stop the Divergent Series from being on par with the other YA film adaptations. We’ve seen this a story about a young girl who saves a dystopian world, takes on a powerful leader, and falls in love. Divergent is the Dollar General version of The Hunger Games – it’s not terrible, but the original is way better. There is a good story about family, purpose, and humanity buried within this mess of a franchise. There’s too much mess to dig through to make following Tris’ journey worth it.