In a nonsense dystopia where people are separated into groups based on their personalities, four people are on the run as fugitives from the state, after rebelling in the previous film. These people are Tris (Shailene Woodley), her love interest Four (Theo James), her brother Caleb (Ansel Engort) and a dick called Peter (Miles Teller). They’ve been hiding out amongst the forgiving and generally pleasant Amity faction, but when Peter sells out the others, Caleb heads back to his home in Erudite, leaving Tris and Four to go on the run, passing from faction to faction in an attempt to raise an army against the evil Erudite, led by Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and her army of Dauntless, led by Eric (Jai Courtney) and Max (Mekhi Phifer). Be warned, this review will contain spoilers because, as much as I hated this film, it ends on a note that left me oh so very gleeful. So, spoiler warning from this point. Also, you should neither want to see these films nor care what happens in them, because they’re shameless rip-offs and band-wagon-jumpers of every young adult dystopian future chosen one saviour bullshit adaptations inundating us at every turn, and these don’t even have the decency to make any damn sense. So why did I even watch it, considering how much I disliked the first one? Well, Kate Winslet is in it, and thus I must watch and review it as part of my ongoing and neverending project to watch all of her movies. Which brings me to that aforementioned spoiler. You see, I spent the entirety of Divergent hoping Winslet’s character of the villainously intellectual Jeanine would die, so she wouldn’t appear in any future movies within this franchise. Well wouldn’t you know it, but my wish came true this time around, and Winslet’s name doesn’t appear in the credits of either half of Allegiant, either on Wikipedia or IMDb, so this may be all I have to endure of the -rgent franchise. If she comes back in, I’ll be monumentally pissed off.
So let’s get through this. I’ve discussed before how utterly ridiculous the notion of a faction society is, so I won’t go into my issues with that again (Who does the cooking in Dauntless? How can they justify discarding two thirds of their recruits into the Factionless wastes? What is the point of the personality-defining selection process if they can each choose their paths anyway?). Instead I’ll focus on this film’s many, many issues. For starters, the cast is fantastic, but no-one gets anything to do. Along with those actors mentioned earlier there’s minute, one-and-done scenes from Octavia Spencer and Daniel Dae Kim, plus returning in spirit if not in screen time actors like Zoë Kravitz, Maggie Q, Ray Stevenson and Ashley Judd. And Naomi Watts has been recruited as the Factionless leader, in a role that offers nothing so far, but will presumably be expanded upon in the next films, which I hope to never prove. Also, pretty much no-one looks like they want to be there, especially all the actors locked into their contracts from the previous film.
The plot is boggling. Tris and Four (who it turns out wasn’t actually born with the name Four, he chose it for reasons that I’m sure will be explained later, but which I will never care about, not ever) start out on the run as criminals of their society, having done whatever happened at the end of Divergent that I’ve since blocked out of my memory, but involved them dragging along Miles Teller’s character, who is actively in support of the people they are running from, yet is somehow not restrained or prevented from being a turncoat. Why he didn’t just up and run away the moment everyone went to sleep their first night in Amity I’ll never know. Or care. Tris and Four flee Amity and head for Candor, the faction where everyone always tells the truth, and only ever wear clothing in black or white, no colour is allowed. It’s symbolic. As soon as they arrive in Candor they are instantly apprehended and put on trial, because of course they are, they’re fugitives, so what were they expecting? Meanwhile, the evil Jeanine has found some kind of box in the remnants of Tris’ house. Jeanine believes the box contains the key to defeating the Divergents, but of course it can only be opened by someone who is Divergent, meaning they fit more than one faction. And it can’t be any Divergent person, no, it needs to be the most divergent Divergent who ever diverged, and wouldn’t you know it, but that’s Tris? Shock! Horror! Whodathunkit?! Tris is captured after Jeanine uses mind control bullets to make people kill themselves, and is forced to go through simulations to prove her divergency, but not before she and Four have a sex scene immediately after someone kills themself because of Tris. That always gets me horny too. Which brings us to the simulations, or rather the dream sequences.
A well-implemented dream sequence can be a great thing. The bowling dance number in The Big Lebowski is terrific. The mind trips in Trainspotting are terrifying. The dream sequences in Insurgent are infuriating. The problem is there’s so damn many of them, and they always play out as though we aren’t supposed to immediately realise they aren’t real, yet they’ve become such a trope of this franchise that I assumed every jump to a new scene or location was a dream sequence until proven otherwise. And if that’s how you approach the film, there’s suddenly no stakes for anything. Not that I cared about any of these so-called-characters whether they’re dreaming or not, but this isn’t A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Tris isn’t being incepted right now, so what happens in the dream has no bearing on real life, so putting her life or others in mortal danger at any point means nothing to me because at some point she’ll wake up and everything will be fine, so just stop it with the dreams, nobody cares.
Is there anything good here? Not much. Miles Teller was decent early on, playing his asshole card and taking advantage of the hippie-like Amity folks who see no issue with him cutting lines or generally being a twat to everyone, but he’s so much of an arrogant shit with so little reason to be that it feels like he’s just being an arse for the sake of it, which very well may be true. Elsewhere, Jai Courtney’s character dies, which is always a bonus. Winslet is also good as the antagonist, but she doesn’t get much more to do than be calmly emotionless, until a third act revelation she didn’t see coming. Also, I was expecting the film to be 2 hours long, which itself is a bonus given the nearly 2 and a half hour long Divergent, but the body of the film was only one-forty-five, because there’s fifteen whole minutes of credits, that can be watched on fast forward to check if there’s a post credits scene, which there isn’t, so everything was over in a nice and timely fashion. Well done everyone.
Choose Life 3/10