On the surface, there appears to be more narrative scope to Allegiant than in either of the two preceding entries into the Divergent series franchise. In Robert Schwentke’s dystopian blockbuster we delve into conspiracy themes, studying socio-political issues and the balance of power between the governing bodies and the general public, but to little effect. This picture may hold much promise, but instead what transpires is the weakest offering to have come out of Veronica Roth’s meticulously-crafted world.
Now Jeanine has been killed, the notion of factions have been taken with her – allowing Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) to live harmoniously. But not for very long – as when the latter’s mother Evelyn (Naomi Watts) takes over where her counterpart left off, she bears an unfortunate resemblance to the tyrannical oppressor, provoking Tris and Four to escape from Chicago. Taking the volatile Peter (Miles Teller), Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and even Tris’ fugitive brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) along for the ride, they are halted soon after, when captured by the Bureau of Genetic Welfare. Though promising a new, safer world – where Tris is lauded by the chief, David (Jeff Daniels) as being ‘pure’ – their comfortability soon turns to suspicion, as they begin to worry that this haven they’ve found themselves in could be even more threatening than the war-zone they left behind.
First and foremost, the villains are not menacing enough, almost too difficult to read, veering on being too subtle and poker-faced. Though this enhances the sense of mystery that lingers over this production – and has laid the foundations for this entire franchise to blossom, as you never know who you can and can’t trust – you don’t feel they pose an indestructible threat. Perhaps it’s because they’re called David and Evelyn. Hardly Lex Luthor, is it? We also don’t see the best of Watts or Daniels, as a film that can be accused of squandering the talents of many accomplished performers – particularly the case for Woodley, who is criminally underused as the film’s leading protagonist. The actors aren’t blessed with having a striking set to act in front of either. As a viewer, we need to believe in this world but it looks too much like a set, which is the very last thing you want from, you know, a set.
There’s too much of a contrived attempt to appease the target demographic, and as such the filmmakers are compromising their own artistic integrity. For Allegiant takes itself far too seriously, so while you do find yourself laughing in parts, it’s generally at the film, rather than along with it.