Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
attempting to maintain peace and order by dividing people into types
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
genetic manipulation of human beings
good and leadership
Shailene Woodley … Tris
Zoë Kravitz … Christina
Naomi Watts … Evelyn
Theo James … Four
Xander Berkeley …
Miles Teller … Peter
Maggie Q … Tori
Jeff Daniels … David
Ansel Elgort … Caleb Prior
Bill Skarsgård … Matthew
Jonny Weston … Edgar
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|Director:||Robert Schwentke—“The Time Traveler’s Wife” (2009), “RED” (2010), “Insurgent” (2015)|
Red Wagon Entertainment
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|Distributor:||Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films|
“The Divergent Series” began with promise. The story of a dystopian pseudo-Communist society where each man is classified into a particular faction based on what best contributes to society. “Faction before blood” (a phrase eerily similar to one found in Marxism) was the motto of the rulers). The “Divergents” were those who wanted to be something more. Although God is conspicuously absent from the series, the books’ author devoted her book to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The theme is that man is more than a cog in a machine and meant for something more.
However, the second in the series diverged somewhat from that theme revealing that their society was a social experiment from some mysterious people who live “beyond the wall.” This is where “Allegiant” picks up. Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), and a few other close friends breach the wall in violation of the orders of the new ruler, Evelyn (Naomi Watts). There, Tris encounters the men behind the experiment who attempt to convince her that she alone is worth saving, and that she alone is special. In the meantime, a civil war erupts in Chicago, and when Tris refuses to abandon her new benefactors, Four leaves on his own to help Chicago.
The theme in “Allegiant” is a strong one that is consistent with the Christian worldview. No one person is more worthy of being saved than another. God made us all individuals with a purpose in life. We are all “damaged,” but we can all be saved. Of course, in the film, salvation takes the form of deliverance from death and a dictatorship, with no mention of God. Nevertheless, the message is wholesome and good. The problem is in execution and in the moral polutants within the film.
Changing directors is not always a good thing. The director of the first film did a good job, but was replaced by Robert Schwentke who also did the inferior sequel “Insurgent.” Like that film, the violence, although mostly bloodless, is extreme. The body count is very high, beginning with mass executions (necessary to the plot). Since the story involves a civil war, we might forgive much of this violence as plot centric, but it is worth a strong caution. There are countless shootings, assaults, and terror. Several scenes include blood dripping down people’s faces, and the execution scenes, although pertinent to the plot, are disturbing.
Sexually, is a passionate kiss, some cleavage, and several silhouetted nude scenes showing the outline of Tris and Four’s bodies.
Now setting aside the moral issues, for there are far worse films out there without the redeeming message of “Allegiant,” the greater problem is that of execution. “Allegiant,” like “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” is divided into two movies. After watching the first part, it is apparent that the reason is just to make money. There seems little reason to have stretched the first half into a two hour and twenty minute film, especially since they created far too many plot holes and clichés. Many places feel contrived, and the eruption of the civil war is shown almost as an afterthought with little plot development therein.
Personally, I am looking forward to a fresh directing perspective as the final film is set to be directed by a relative new comer. I can only hope that he will place character and plot development over CGI and “cool” looking scenes. I feel the over emphasis on special effects only detracts from the script and story, rather than helping it.
Now, having made these criticism, I do wish to be clear that “Allegiant” is a relatively good film. I actually prefer it to “Insurgent.” It think it is unfortunate that critics have maligned the film so severely. The film is not fairing well at the box office, in no small part because fans feel cheated that the last book was unnecessarily divided in two, but the film is entertaining, with a good message, and I have high hopes that the new director will return the series to its roots for the finale next year.
Violence: Heavy to extreme / Profanity: Moderate—“God” (1), “holy s***,” “d*mn” (1), “h*ll”(3), f-words (5), “a**” (1) / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.