Genre: Action and Adventure
Director: Robert Schwentke
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts, Jeff Daniels, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q
Release Date: March 18th, 2016
The Divergent film series has always felt like an inferior version of the more character-driven Hunger Games movies. The concept of Divergent, page the original film in the series, was interesting with individuals in a dystopian Chicago being divided into five camps (like modern-day members of The Breakfast Club) in a seemingly idyllic society, that was anything but. The characters, though, were tiresome and forgettable. Insurgent, the second feature in the series, saw many of those individuals rising up and eventually finding a way to escape the city. Now The Divergent Series: Allegiant, the third film in the series, has arrived– offering our heroes a new world they can escape into.
The new film opens up a short while after its predecessor. After Evelyn (Naomi Watts) has taken control of the society, the new order has become a lesser version of the old order. Evelyn is executing dissenters and creating a world where the government’s justice is cruel and ugly. She executes traitors after brief mock trials, earning applause from the crowd as shots ring out.
Four (Theo James), Evelyn’s son, knows the danger of this approach. “You incited a mob. Now try controlling it,” he says.
Four eventually joins heroine Tris (Shailene Woodley), her traitorous brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and their sarcastic nemesis-turned-ally-turned-nemesis Peter (Miles Teller) in escaping the city.
They escape Chicago but they can’t escape the bland morass of this story. The Divergent series wasn’t great to begin with but Allegiant reaches a new low point.
After a semi-interesting opening, the story devolves into a bloated mess of an adaptation. When the heroes leave the city with their allies, they enter into a desert world of raining blood. Their plight goes downhill from there.
Director Robert Schwentke overdoes the special effects in this outside world with scenes showing the main characters floating in bubbles flying in spaceships. At times, it seems like the story has become a parody of itself, replacing any sense of interesting plot choices with silly effects that only show how hollow this journey has become.
The plot unfolds sloppily as Tris — the heroine in all of this — begins doubting her own relationship with Four after a mysterious leader named David (Jeff Daniels) urges her to align with him. The previous two films showcased Tris’ budding relationship with Four and the trust they’ve established and yet, after a few brief conversations with David, Tris doesn’t know who to trust anymore.
There’s also little development with the other supporting characters. Caleb, who was chosen for the erudite camp in the original because of his intelligence, becomes a forgettable supporting player here. After betraying his sister in the second feature, Caleb is stuck here blandly delivering information to the other characters whenever he appears. During a chase scene at the end, the bright Caleb spots three ships behind his and notes “Looks like three ships are following us.” He doesn’t offer any way to stop those ships or anything useful. He just tells them something the audience can already see.
It’s a wonder this character was ever seen as intelligent.
And once again, Peter solely exists to turn his back on the people who trusted him. It would be a surprise twist but it keeps happening over and over again.
Although neither Divergent or Insurgent worked for me, they are both far superior to this third installment. Unfortunately for viewers, the third book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent book series was split into two films with this one serving as part one of the not-so-grand finale (the final movie opens next year). That might explain why this film is so painstakingly boring but it doesn’t explain why this series has become such a muddied mess.
“You saved a city. Help me save the world,” David says to Tris at one point. It would’ve been better if the actors had tried to save this movie.
Review by: John Hanlon