5.5 out of 10
Shailene Woodley as Tris
Directed by Robert Schwentke
Despite cool production design and changing significantly from the book, Allegiant doesn’t have enough to set itself apart from other young adult novel adaptations. It’s mainly worth viewing just to see how it sets everything up for the upcoming “Ascendant” next year.
After the revelation in Insurgent that post-apocalyptic Chicago was walled off as an experiment by those on the outside world, the remaining factions descend into chaos. The remaining members of the Erudite faction are put on mock trials and executed, and Tris’ brother Caleb is scheduled to be judged next.
Frustrated that his mother Evelyn has now taken over as dictator, Four begins to plot a way to get over the city walls with Tris and find out who, or what, lies on the other side. However, Tris decides to break Caleb free first. Her action puts all of the remaining factions hot on their trail as they race for the wall. Tori, Peter, and Christina join their group along the way.
As they make it to the other side, they find a wasteland destroyed by war. But in their search, they run across the people that built the Chicago experiment in the first place and their technology is centuries more advanced than they ever suspected. Tris learns that she’s the key to all of their efforts, but at what cost to mankind?
Allegiant is rated PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements, and some partial nudity.
For me, one thing stood out in Allegiant – the production design. When we finally get our peek at what’s over the wall around Chicago, it’s interesting. Our heroes first see a wasteland ravaged by war and contamination. There are massive craters, futuristic ruins, red rain, and more. It would almost fit in the world of Mad Max, but there are no flaming guitars here. But when we finally have the curtain lifted, literally, and see what’s behind it, we’re treated to a new vision of the future. There are floating cities that you’d expect to see Lando Calrissian in, soldiers with personal flying drones, and more. It’s kind of like the world of Oblivion mixed with Aliens, or Apple mixed with an industrial refinery. So as the characters are pulled into this world, we discover it for the first time along with them.
The cast pretty much repeats what they did in the previous two films which works to varying degrees. Shailene Woodley is a decent “everywoman” as Tris. Ansel Elgort is still incredibly awkward as Caleb. Miles Teller is a weasel and comic relief as Peter. However, Theo James stands out more and more as Four. He’s a solid leading man who handles both the action and drama well. I see he’s lined up for Underworld 5, but I think he could be a strong contender in other action movie roles.
While I did not read the books by Veronica Roth, my daughter and wife did. They loved the series… except for “Allegiant.” They HATED how it ended. They hated it so much that they refuse to see this film. My daughter joined me at the screenings for the previous films, then ditched me for this one. After seeing the movie, I went and read the synopsis for the novel. Without spoiling anything, I can say they are different, and in some ways significantly so. Think of how “The Walking Dead” comics differ from the TV show and you get the idea. And also having seen the two plots side by side, I’ll also say that I think the movie plot was better. So if you did not like the novel, I think there’s a good chance that this movie will fix what you didn’t like in the book. And since there’s a fourth film with Ascendant, I think it will break new territory beyond the novels since this movie seems to generally end where the book did.
What Didn’t Work:
I’m ashamed to admit this, but as Allegiant started I could not remember who the villain was in the previous film. Was it Julianne Moore? No, that was The Hunger Games. Was it Patricia Clarkson? No, that was The Maze Runner. Was it Kate Winslet or Naomi Watts? Yes and no. I had never had a problem telling the various YA adaptations apart, but as this movie started they finally blurred together. However, you have to admit that it’s somewhat forgivable. Those films all have dystopian themes, post-apocalyptic settings, ruined cities, barren wastelands, evil corporate entities that initially seem nice… they’re all very, very similar. Mainly the faces change. So Allegiant is hurt by the fact that it doesn’t have much to set itself apart from the other young adult novels. In fact, it’s hurt by the fact that Allegiant and Insurgent are very similar to each other. The villains are similar, the twists and turns are similar, and even the ending is similar. It needed more but it didn’t deliver. Yeah, drones, futuristic cities, and flying ships are cool, but it wasn’t enough.
While the first half of the film is pretty strong, the second half trails off quite a bit, especially as Tris is wooed away from her friends. The less she’s in the action, the less interesting the story becomes. In fact, someone a couple of rows back from me started snoring at our screening. As annoyed as I was by it, I did have to agree that the story was dragging.
As I walked out of Allegiant, I was confused. This movie ended as if there was going to be a fourth movie, yet at the time I didn’t know about Ascendant. I only knew there were three books. Were they splitting the last book in two? Was there even going to be a fourth movie? Even the screening reps didn’t seem to know for sure. So if I was confused, I imagine a lot of other people will be as well.
The Bottom Line:
If you liked the first two movies, then Allegiant is worth checking out at the very least on TV. It’s the weakest of the three films, but hopefully it tees up the fourth film for a big finish.