Allegiant - Sets Up Dominoes to Knock Down Next Year

Matthew Parkinson | 18 Mar 2016 12:00
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Directed by Robert Schwentke. Produced by Douglas Wick, Lucy Fisher, and Pouya Shabazian. Written by Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, and Stephen Chbosky. Release date: March 11, 2016.

There's a new rule when it comes to movies based on young adult book franchises: if your series survives past the first film, you're allowed to continue it all the way to the end, and also split the final book into two movies, because that way more money will be made. Harry Potter did it. Twilight did it. The Hunger Games did it. And now it's Divergent's chance. The third movie is called Allegiant - as is the third book - but it doesn't tell the whole story found in the novel. We have to wait for Ascendant, which sucks not because Allegiant is some great film, but because it's all building toward events that we won't get to see for at least another year.

After the Wicked Witch of the West was wiped out in the last film, the ruins of Chicago have been taken over by Evelyn (Naomi Watts), who has taken to doing the same things as the last leader, except that the class system has been abolished. Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) still aren't happy, so they decide to go over the wall surrounding the city. They take with them Christina (Zoe Kravitz), Tris' brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), and Peter (Miles Teller). What do they find? A technologically advanced society run by David (Jeff Daniels), who have been studying and watching the Chicago residents for 200 years.

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Why? Genetics. People fiddled with genomes, which caused war, and now they're trying to figure out if people will become "pure" in isolation. Tris is "pure." If you weren't already aware that she was The Special, there's a line of dialogue in this film that literally says "you are the only one." David wants to use Tris to figure out how everyone can be made pure. The series wasn't content with dealing with class structure; it now wants to deal with genetic purity. Interesting ideas, and it sure would be nice if the films were smart enough to actually have anything poignant to say about the concepts.

There are also a couple of subplots. Chicago descends into a turf war between Evelyn and Johanna (Octavia Spencer), Four discovers that some things might not be right in this futuristic society, and Peter reminds us that he's the Big Show of this franchise when it comes to face and heel turns. There's a lot of plot that Allegiant has to deal with, which might be why most of its running time is devoted to that and almost nothing else, while its final act gives us a ticking time bomb used to (1) provide us with an immediate goal to solve in order to make us feel like we accomplished something, (2) resolve a couple of loose threads that it didn't want hanging, and (3) further build toward the final chapter.

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