Film Review: The Divergent Series Allegiant (12A)

Anyone who believes that Americans don't grasp irony should watch the third film in the Divergent saga, adapted from Veronica Roth's bestselling trilogy for young adults.

Friday, 11th March 2016, 8:02 am
The Divergent Series: Allegiant. Pictured: Theo James.: PA Photo/Entertainment One.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant. Pictured: Theo James.: PA Photo/Entertainment One.

While the series’ gutsy heroine makes defiant speeches about individuality, Robert Schwentke’s dystopian action adventure meekly surrenders to bland genre conformity.

More so than ever, Allegiant languishes in the shadow of The Hunger Games, treading water for almost two hours before lighting the fuse on a final reckoning that forms the dramatic spine of the concluding instalment, Ascendant, released in June 2017.

Unlike Katniss Everdeen, Divergent’s spunky trailblazer Tris becomes increasingly reactive in this third outing and is superfluous for extended periods as peripheral characters learn valuable plot information that can be distilled in expository dialogue.

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Tris also develops a nasty case of naivete at a critical juncture, which doesn’t make sense given everything she has endured.

“I never should have trusted you,” she tells one shady antagonist, stating the obvious.

The demise of Jeanine (Kate Winslet) in the second picture leaves a power vacuum, which is neatly filled by Evelyn (Naomi Watts), embittered leader of the factionless, and Johanna (Octavia Spencer), figurehead of peace-loving Amity.

“Sometimes walls are there to protect us,” Evelyn tells her people, but Tris (Shailene Woodley), her lover Four (Theo James), brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), good friend Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and Dauntless turncoat Peter (Miles Teller) disagree and scale the electrified perimeter of Chicago.

They discover a radiation ravaged wilderness known as The Fringe where rivers run blood red.

Armed forces from the Bureau of Genetic Welfare rescue Tris and her compatriots in the nick of time and transport them back to headquarters at O’Hare Airport.

There, facility director David (Jeff Daniels) reveals a grand genetic experiment with far-reaching consequences for the fate of mankind.

“Help me save the world,” David implores Tris.

Unsure who to trust, the new arrivals face difficult choices to survive.

Meanwhile back in the city ruins, Evelyn and thuggish henchman Edgar (Jonny Weston) prepare to usurp Johanna using deadly force. The Divergent Series: Allegiant is the weakest link in the dramatic chain.

Four screenwriters offer no artistic justification for cleaving Roth’s final book in half: Allegiant is two hours of awkward foreplay and at the end, we’re not remotely excited. Action set pieces are solid but functional.

Woodley is squandered, staring doe-eyed at James’ hunky love interest as events spiral out of control around her.

Teller serves up quips as the comic relief and only justifies his presence in a laughable action sequence that witnesses hundreds of extras fleeing from memory-erasing orange gas that looks like the special effects department unleashed a giant carroty fart.

We’re tempted to take a big whiff to forget Schwentke made this third chapter.