'Allegiant' to Senselessness

The Worst
Fuck no! That's not true at all!

The Divergent series has come full circle. They escaped their factions, they escaped their captors, they escaped the city, and now…they’ve come back to the city because it was where they belonged!! Hooray for progress! And THAT, my friends, is just one of the many hilarious and outright dumb logic this movie expects the audience to accept.

Tris and Four are back in the first part of the final chapter of the Divergent series. With Jeanine now overthrown, a new era of peace is upon the walled city of Chicago. Or is it? After one tyrannical fascist comes another. Evelyn, the leader of the factionless, now leads the people of Chicago with an uncompromising hand, believing herself the only person who truly knows what’s good for the people. Hoping there’s a better future for them outside the walls, Tris, Four, Caleb, Peter and Christina go against Evelyn’s lockdown to venture the unknown and look for the civilization that confined them there in the first place.

I think a sea of red is a good first clue that you should never have left.

It’s amazing how this film so quickly reverts back to the conflict of the previous two movies. Another power hungry female leader? Another predicament driven by social roles and division? Another trust problem with Peter? A few minutes in and the plot already undoes everything Tris and Four accomplished in the prequels, from the surface and thematic conflicts, to character arcs.

sci fi
They saved the sap though. So that's...something.

But I’ll come back to that later. I’ll start with the very few redemptive qualities the movie has (so I can get it out of the way and start a much needed rant.) One, the movie’s visuals are undeniably impressive. Minus some sporadic poorly done green screen scenes and the questionable extent of CGI use, the special effects of the tech, the cityscapes and the sci-fi-ness of it all were very pretty. The actors and practical effects mingle with the CGI is seamless fashion. The wall hike was an incredible and well-made sequence, the treatment for the movie’s advanced surveillance systems was very creative, and those military support disks were also pretty cool to watch. These were just some of the story’s tech that I was quite impressed with, in function AND visualization.

Gave a whole new meaning to "bubble bath".

Two, Theo James (Four) is still a freaking ROCK! I’ve said in my Insurgent review last year that the guy has the makings of the next big action hero, and that hasn’t let up in Allegiant. The guy’s vicious! His every blow is heavy handed and committed. You really can’t tell if he’s still acting…or if he’s got real beef with the extras. Hopefully, he shows this intensity and action talents in new, more substantial projects down the road.

Theo James
Ride the Theo James to be the next Sam Worthington bandwagon with me!

Compliments done. Let the ranting commence!

Like I said, Allegiant is plagued with a plethora of inconsistencies, shoddy logic, and frustrating character motivations. Peter betrayed his friends and his city for what, a better job? Did Evelyn really not know that releasing an amnesia-inducing toxin in the atmosphere would affect everyone, including her factionless army?? If David had the ability to control everything in Chicago, why didn’t he just press the mind-wipe reset button remotely himself? Why didn’t he just override the controls of his ship to stop Tris from escaping? Why didn’t he have a key or a password on it in the first place? Why couldn’t he just shut off the drones on Tris’ suit since it was Bureau tech?? He said he could control everything. Well, obviously nothing important.

I could count a dozen ways David could have stopped Tris.

Why again was David so excited about Tris being “pure” when he had a whole city of pure people? He said it was proof that pure can come out of the damaged. But what’s the need for such a convoluted experiment to produce “pure” humans when they could just, oh I don’t know…MAKE BABIES. If pure could come from the damaged, what was the need for segregation? Doesn’t that mean that human genetics would cure itself eventually? Was the experiment really just a means for David to get money? That’s way too shallow, not to mention the fact that he’d have had to have a workable hypothesis to have been able to get as much funding as he did.

Why was he stealing babies from the fringe? What was he doing with those kids? Why did bureau people “not like” David? Were all of these just to manufacture suspicion on the character’s seemingly benevolent aims?

David’s motivations and the purpose of his Chicago experiment were so painfully vague. You constantly wonder why he’s doing what he’s doing and eventually it starts to feel like you’re the one bridging the gaps just to make sense of it all. It’s one of the most unpleasant feelings when watching a movie when the audience is the one exerting effort to rationalize the plot and make the movie decent.

They don't look too damaged to me!

In the first place, what was so inherently different between the pure and the damaged? The film never shows a single significant difference between the two. And when you think about it, what was really special about Tris? She’s pure, but when she gets out of Chicago, we find out she’s just one of many. Just as she was just one of many divergent. She never exactly accomplishes anything significant in this film, except to rally the Chicago-ians at the very end. But really Four is more of a heroic figure than Tris. Tris' character arc consists of her doing what she’s not supposed to do – “You can’t go out of Chicago.” She goes out, “You can’t go back to Chicago.” She goes back. So much for all her talk rousing speeches about going beyond their walled city. Granted, the factions are supposedly finally abolished, but the sense of Tris’ accomplishment is undermined by its abrupt conclusion and the lack of personal conviction and tangible progress on her beyond-the-walls front. (Unless of course the underlying lesson here was that the world is a scary place and it would do you good to know your place.)

What makes Tris so special? She's not the only Pure. Neither is she the only Divergent!

I kid. I know it’s about breaking down social walls, unity, peace, and all that good stuff. It’s also about transcending one’s self and being more than what other people expect from you, what you expect from yourself. And that notion is most prevalent in Caleb (adorably played by Ansel Elgort), who to me is the most captivating character…the only captivating character in this installment.

The only character to have any real character development.

Jeff Daniels (David) adds a rich charm to his morally ambiguous antagonist, but like I said, he sorely lacked consistency. Naomi Watts’ Evelyn character was frustratingly dense. It’s hard to believe she didn’t see how similar she was becoming to her longtime foe, Jeanine. Miles Teller, who’s an amazingly versatile actor, was stuck with a poorly written character. We’ve already seen Peter be the bad guy who ultimately has his friends’ backs, only to now turn him full heel. And Tris…well Tris is too skinny. She doesn’t look fit to be the messianic post-apocalyptic heroine she’s supposed to be portraying. But I think this one’s just me.

Since we know the second part of this story is still to come out next year, it’s hard to give Allegiant a conclusive verdict. But as it stands, it’s really not worth your time or money. The action, tech and sci-fi angle were all good and nice, they just weren’t grounded in anything sensible. You spend the whole movie figuring out the motives of characters only to eventually give up in exhaustion and say “Ahhh, fuck it. It’s not worth it.” 

Cool sequence for sure, but not worth sitting through the movie.

MICMIC RATING: 4 (just like the character) / 10 

No comments:

Post a Comment