‘Allegiant’: Always Another Wall to Get Over

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

We’ve been waiting for two whole movies to find out what’s beyond the surrounding wall of post-apocalyptic Chicago, and it’s finally here! The first film, Divergent, set the stage for the world in which post-devastation Chicago lives under the yoke of the factions that divide them from each other, and the legend of the mold-breaker Divergent haunts the city leaders. In the sequel, Insurgent, Tris Prior has been labeled a fabled Divergent and, as the factions break down in Chicago and people are chasing her for their own ends, prophecy comes to light about what’s really beyond the walls of the city. Now, here we are with a third film in which, immediately, Tris and crew are dead-set on scaling those walls and finding out what’s really in the great beyond, so let’s get into this!

The spoilers, they never end!

Those improbable Dauntless climbing rigs really are cool; I think you all should’ve kept them once you made it over the wall. And, yes, it’s a shame Tori (Maggie Q) only made it to the top of the wall before getting killed, but hey, it was farther than she ever got in her Divergent-helping life. Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James), along with the ever-insistent Peter (Miles Teller) and Tris’ forgiven brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), are out there traversing the pink, pock-marked wasteland in despair while the bad guys from Chicago are trying to chase them down. Is this really all there is beyond the wall — say it’s not so — there has to be something else out here besides a bleeding sky and dead building skeletons and – wait, what’s that? It’s another wall.

But, hey, once you get past that wall and the unexpected super future-science soldiers show up, saving us from the bad guys who chased us all the way past Chicago’s wall, it’s not so bad. Time to get placed in a transport bubble, taken to the cleanest decontamination process you’ve ever had ever, and dosed with a heaping helping of future-truth from the guy in charge, Director Call-me-David (Jeff Daniels).

The present-future is still rather hampered by the past, where we humans did all manner of fuckery to ourselves with genetic modification and the like. This is not explained all that clearly; basically, what we’re left with is the revelation that Chicago itself is a giant petri dish experiment, struggling to bring about the natural selection of the Pure amongst the Damaged. Tris, being a Divergent, is, of course, the very first Pure to be brought out of Chicago, and David wants to take her to the nearby city of Providence, before the Council, to prove their experimentations actually worked and change the face of the world forever!

Whew! Meanwhile, Four has been assigned to the Dauntless-sneering futuristic military operations of the Bureau, and Caleb and Peter have been remanded to the amazing surveillance system, to keep tabs on the war brewing in the faction-less aftermath of Chicago. The experimental city is bent on tearing itself apart in the wake of former leader-villain Evelyn’s death, and the factions are re-forming as they prepare to go to war. Inevitably, what was Amity now announces its new name, Allegiant (there’s your fourth wall broken), and is determined to go to war with the other factionless, who are staging executions as part of the newly discovered freedom of what to do with POWs there in Chicago. Four got himself assigned to what ultimately turns out to be a raid — of children, no less — kidlings living out in the badlands to be stolen from their parents on David’s own orders and sent to be raised as brainwashed soldiers for the Bureau. Four tries to warn Tris that David is a bad man but Tris figures she’s got this and goes off in the flying bubble with David to Providence to state their case before the Council.

But it’s all happening more or less simultaneously – Chicago’s about to go to Armageddon-like war, Tris screwed David and the Council over pretty hardcore, Peter’s made his choice to help the bad guys of the Bureau – the metaphorical and real walls are caving in everywhere! David’s son Matthew, whom you might recognize as Bill Skarsgard, has decided to help Tris and company escape the Bureau however he might, and there is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it easter egg when Tris uses his key card to get out and the card announces Matthew as Pure, as well. The orange forget-me-not gas is being let out everywhere, people are panicking, and only Tris and her friends can save the day! The movie draws to a somewhat climactic close with Tris and her pals, except the raging, kept-out Peter, of course, preparing to bring down yet another wall and stop the war brewing inside Chicago, and the present-day battles revving up on the outside!

I’ve long been a fan of the Divergent movie series, far over The Hunger Games or pretty much any other dystopian future films based on a YA book series. This latest installment film doesn’t disappoint. In both tone and scope, keeping the same faction and breakout elements that made the book series so enjoyable to begin with, but also introducing a breath of fresh air in the form of sci-fi elements to the over-arcing storyline.

All the kids we met in the first movie have grown immeasurably, some into heroes and some into misled villains, and, for the most part, we approve of what they’re doing without the yoke of adult regret. Not yet, anyway. As always, Tris Prior is made to stand out, both when she’s a Divergent among the beleaguered of Chicago and when she’s among the Damaged of the Bureau, where she wears all-white amongst the fighting-practice blacks of everyone else. At least she has a much better haircut this time. The many walls of the Divergent world are constantly coming up and being broken down, both metaphorically and literally, often, and the films remind the up-and-coming generations to break free of their own walls with grace and gusto!