Esther McCarthy reviews The Divergent Series: Allegiant and Traders
The Divergent Series: Allegiant (12A) **
There was never much doubt that Divergent, a series already struggling to resonate with audiences, would suffer from its finale being split in two.
It opens with the walls remaining intact as just five characters take on the ultimate rebellion in the dystopian, factioned society in which they live, by breaking free of the walls which surround Chicago.
To do so, Tris (Shailene Woodley), her love interest Four (Theo James), brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and the feisty Peter (Myles Teller), must scale the massive, heavily secured walls.
They aim to do so by running vertically up the surface while under heavy fire in what is a nifty opening sequence.
In fact, the action scenes here are more lively and better executed than in the other films and almost serve to relieve the tedium of the hammy script and slow-moving plotline.
Almost. There are other strong ideas too, most notably the introduction of a force field-style world beyond the wall that only certain characters can manoeuvre in and out of. There’s a potentially shady new character, too, in the form of a suave authority type named David (Jeff Daniels).
As a matter of fact, had the finale not been cut in half, there was the makings of a decent sci-fi actioner here. But Hollywood opted for a lucrative two-movie cash-in instead.
Traders (16) ***
Killian Scott emerges as a strong screen presence in Traders, a problematic but engaging thriller set in modern-day Dublin.
As with many high-concept set-ups, the film initially struggles with its rather fantastical conceit before settling into a gritty urban thriller.
Scott is very good as Harry Fox, a former high-roller left broke after the company he works for goes bust.
He’s dismayed at the prospect of no longer getting to enjoy the good life he once had - and disgusted at having to take on a poorly-paid office job in sales.
Meanwhile, his former colleague Vernon (Game of Thrones’ John Bradley) is a social misfit not exactly known to be a people person.
Following the suicide of a businessman they were acquainted with, Vernon comes up with the risky prospect of ‘trading’.
The idea? Two people agree anonymously over the internet to fight to the death in a remote location. In doing so they trade for their remaining life savings, with the survivor taking all.
It’s a pretty bold, blunt idea for a money earner and initially, Traders requires a leap of faith from its audience to go along for the ride. The rewards come in the form of some pitch-black humour and fine performances.