The third entry of the Divergent series sets up the story for an intriguing finale...
In the Divergent book series by Veronica Roth, Allegiant is the third and final part of the saga, but because of the Hollywood trend of making two movies based on the final book of a series (thanks a lot, Harry Potter!), Allegiant is the third movie of the Divergent film series but is the second to last entry. Therefore, you can expect a story that continues after the events of Insurgent, the preceding film, and provides a cliffhanger ending that will get us to anticipate the final movie (to be called Ascendant). That doesn't mean this movie is bad, because I still enjoyed it. As long as you don't assume this is the last movie, you should be fine.
As any good movie in the middle of a series should do, Allegiant begins with major changes to the setting and characters. With a violent overthrow that took place in Insurgent, the walled city of Chicago is no longer divided into the five factions of Erudite, Candor, Amity, Abnegation, and Dauntless plus the factionless members of society. The entire population is essentially factionless, with angry mob rule in charge of violent justice against the now-former oppressors. The heroine Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her boyfriend Four (Theo James) now find themselves wondering what is outside the wall, now that they know another human civilization is out there and that the faction system in Chicago was actually a social experiment in hopes of producing the strongest and brightest individuals transcending all faction lines (the Divergents, who were previously seen as a threat to the order of the system). Despite a military order to keep the wall sealed, Tris, Four, and a few allies fight their way to the wall and get themselves over it.
What they find is a bloody-looking barren landscape with no signs of human life. Thankfully, it is not long before they make contact with other humans, who are members of the Bureau of Genetic Welfare. On the surface, this group, led by a director named David (Jeff Daniels), is seeking to improve the genetic quality of the human race, and it is doing so through the experimental faction system in Chicago, in hopes that the Pure, who are individuals exemplifying multiple positive human traits without really falling into one faction, can serve as models for improving the Damaged, or the genetically imperfect. Tris is especially intrigued by this, because she learns that she is a Pure individual. There is hope for her and the other characters who have escaped Chicago, which by this point has truly become a dystopia.
But, things are not always what they seem. Four learns this the hard way, when he is assigned to a military role for the Bureau and is ordered to carry out a mission that is ethically questionable. Pretty soon, it's clear that there isn't a dystopia in Chicago and a utopia with the Bureau, but rather two dystopias, with two sets of characters dealing with their own conflicts and struggles. The stage is now set for the main characters to decide where to go and what to do based on their own personal motivations. The conflicts that ensure are interesting to say the least.
The fact that I spent much of this review describing half of the plot is no accident. For about the first third of the movie, the focus is getting the main characters from point A to point B, introducing the world outside Chicago, and laying down the plot elements that drive the actions of various characters. But once that is done, the rest of the movie moves along nicely, with exciting scenes and a few startling surprises. As for the action, it's the same hard-hitting type you know from the previous two movies, Divergent and Insurgent.
The only thing I'll comment on is how the series thus far as managed to maintain my interest from the start. The first film presented a great setup and the initial conflict. The second film escalated it. Now this film creates a new conflict while expanding the geography. I think the next and last film of this series will not disappoint. At least, I hope not.
That's pretty much it. The best way to sum it up is that if you love the first two movies, expect more of the same. I mean that in a good way, of course.
Anthony's Rating: 8/10
(Review originally published at http://anthonysfilmreview.com/Film/A/Allegiant.htm)