Wednesday 16 March 2016

The Divergent Series: Allegiant (Part 1) ... Leading the way

THE drones in The Divergent Series: Allegiant (Part 1) are the most intriguing and interesting
parts in the film. Heck, if they were characters, I'd root for them. This is because they do most of the heavy lifting in this film about personalties.
  A person has three drones. With a swish of his hand, the drones pop out from behind his jacket and circle the air, hunting for prey to be destroyed or providing a bullet-proof shield.

   This is not to say that the characters and events in the film are nondescript. They just lack panache. The biggest narrative challenge in this film is the trust between heroine Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her Green Beret lover Four (Theo James), and whether she can heed his warnings about director David (Jeff Daniels).
  Other than that, there's still turmoil in faction-divided Chicago, and a shiny metropolis hides a dark secret. No great shakes.
   The romance between the two lovers is stilted. Just because they say they love each other doesn't mean that their passion is palpable. Both actors are likable but their relationship needs to envelop viewers. For example, Four tells Tris that he wishes they were alone, but viewers won't believe his desires.
   Viewers would have learnt from the previous film that the divided Chicago is an experiment to impose peace on it by a council of white people.
  A subtheme of the film is whether lanky Tris is ready to step forward and take her place as a leader. Johanna (Octavia Spencer), leader of the Amity faction, tells her: "Great leaders are called by necessity ... They need you." But our heroine stays in the shadows.
    Tensions run high between Four and his young-looking mum Evelyn (Naomi Watts). Evelyn bows to
Tris looks good in white.
public demand for a trial for those who sided with Jeanine in the previous two films.
  Four may be a super-violent person, but he says: "Why did you go to war with Jeanine when you were just going to become like her?"
   Breaking free from your comfort zone is another theme in this film. Viewers will remember that Chicago is fortified by huge walls. Someone says: "Mankind waits for hope beyond the walls."
  Tris said: "I cannot live without knowing (what's out there)."
   So out they go to a toxic wasteland that has a bleeding sky. The lovers are accompanied by Tris's brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), wisecracking comedian Peter (Miles Teller) and token minority Christina (Zoe Kravitz).
   Their escapade takes them to the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, a fancy name for an even fancier metropolis that's invisible to the naked eye. The people there, especially David, have watched our heroes for the longest time, which is similar to The Truman Show.
   David impresses on Tris that people like her are Pure and others are Damaged, which to me sounds like Nazi politics.
   He urges Tris: "Help me save the world." As they spend more time together, Four gets a wee bit jealous. Astute viewers will know that grey-haired white men in grey suits living in the clouds are often not who they seem to be.
   Four says he knows he's Damaged. Tris says she knows. He asks her when she was going to tell him.
The gang's loaded up.
 She says she didn't think it was important and that he'd be the same to her regardless of what he was.
  Four later finds out that the bureau wipes out children's memories. "You take away who they were."
   This film's arc can be seen as a journey by Tris to be the leader she destined to be. Along the way, she is sidetracked by the seemingly important research conducted by David.
   This puts her on a collision path with Four, who is jealous of her spending time with David and who's upset he's sidelined.
2 1/2 out of 5 stars

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