Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Miles Teller, Zoe Kravitz, Ansel Elgort, Bill Skarsgard, Nadia Hilker
Director: Robert Schwentke
Anti-eugenics narrative Allegiant makes an impassioned plea for self-acceptance (warts and all) in a thought-provoking tale that brings to mind the ugly behaviour of denizens of the self-proclaimed Land of the Pure next door and the Nazis.You, gentle reader, should know North America used to run a benign (?) eugenics program in the 20th century.It also nurtured great folk artists like The Kingston Trio and Pete Seeger who asked, “Where have all the flowers gone…when will we ever learn?” Why, you’d think ultra-orthodox Bawas closer home (& others who pride themselves on racial purity) would exercise their grey cells hmmm? Never mind China which has been running the world’s largest eugenics program for years. And never mind the film’s plot holes. Never you mind. Only hail the salutary anti-eugenics lesson we’re taught after the tormented characters escape from an enslaved existence to a brave(?) new (?) post-apocalyptic world.
Adapted from the sci fi bestseller for young adults written by Veronica Roth, Allegiant completes the trilogy the author started with her debut novel Divergent in 2011. The third and final installment in the franchise is split into two films titled Allegiant (the film under review) and Part 2 ( titled Ascendant) which is slated for a March release next year. I’m looking forward to that, I am.
Allegiant’s director Robert Schwentke who helmed last year’s “Insurgent,” returns to this sequel, picking up where chapter two ended with the death of Kate Winslet’s Jeanine who headed the regime where each person is allotted to a particular faction based on how best s/he contributes to society.Naomi Watts reprises her role as Evelyn, the mother of Four (Theo James, so sweet and dependable) Viewers will recall Four’s sweetheart Beatrice aka Tris (Shailene Woodley, sweet and strong), had helped dismantle the wicked system that divided families in an experiment controlled by a strange lot that lives beyond the Wall. Now, Evelyn, will not allow the erstwhile factions to leave, and following in the footsteps of the despotic Jeanine, allows kangaroo trials which end in public executions. Peace loving Johanna (Octavia Spencer), disapproves and challenges Evelyn who decides war must be waged anew. (As the song goes, When will we ever learn??). Alarmed by the situation, Tris, Four,Christina (Zoe Kravitz), two ex turncoats namely Tris’ brother, Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Peter (Miles Teller,sly) decide to breach the Wall with help from Tori (Maggie Q). But first, they must traverse a radioactive wasteland and be whisked off in strange spaceships to a new cityscape. Which Poor Tori only sees from afar much like the OT Prophet Moses saw the Promised Land from Mount Nebo in Jordan.
In the heart of the new metro is the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, headed by David (Jeff Daniels) who needs funding for certain experiments. Tris is told Chicago was populated by the “genetically damaged” whose offspring must be purified. He justifies the new experiment by telling Tris she is extra Special; the only person who is Pure – in possession of healthy genes – and will she help him in the betterment of society? She agrees, unaware of his true intentions.No Oscars for guessing he’s cast in the mala fide mould. But Tris must learn (again) the meaning of Courage,Sacrifice and Love, true love. The young Divergents and David’s disenchanted young staff like Mathew (Bill Skarsgard) and Nita (Nadia Hilker) represent all that is thoughtful and decent.
The movie reflects author Roth’s Christian worldview. No one has more value than another. Everyone is equal and equally worthy of being helped/saved. Even though we are all “damaged” (Original Sin/ Aristotle’s Poetics) we can all be saved (Christian theology). The special effects and young cast is splendid,the story arc in chapter 2 may give you deja vu, but as I said before, I can hardly wait for Ascendant.