This is the cinematic equivalent of rock soup. “Allegiant” (opening in theaters nationwide March 18) is many things: another wholly unnecessary exercise in chopping one novel into two malformed movies, a crass cash grab for a franchise with an impending expiration date and every YA trope mashed into a twisted pile of uninspired teen angst plot points. But to be clear: “Allegiant” is not a good movie.
In short: After learning civilization outside the walled city of Chicago does exist, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) venture beyond the wall while a civil war threatens to destroy their home city. (watch the trailer)
Great movies start with great screenplays – but the latest “Divergent” slog is barely a story at all. While the two lead characters aimlessly wander around a wasteland for a while, everyone else in Chicago just goes to war with each other — you know, for “reasons.” Tris’ goal is as unclear as the thin motivations behind the latest civil war tearing Chicago apart. And just to add a new layer of frustration to this mess, Tris does bump into a new civilization beyond Chicago — but one with equally vague motivations.
The past two “Divergent” movies follow a very basic formula: wow, Tris is so special – only she can save the world. Then some powerful antagonist has a crazy weapon/plan that targets pretty much everyone in Chicago — but don’t worry, super special Tris will swoop in to save the day. Oh, and sarcastic, selfish Peter (Miles Teller) will inevitably betray Tris. Rest assured “Divergent” fans – that tired formula props up yet another of these stupid movies … except this time, all the formulaic action is crammed into the third act. Very little that matters happens in the first two acts.
And Lionsgate has done everything humanly possible to polish this turd. It features a cavalcade of award winners and nominees – including Woodley herself, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer and even Jeff Bridges (who effectively just replaces Oscar-winner Kate Winslet). But do not let the fact that this film is adapted from a “best-selling book” (even Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal” was a bestseller) or its all-star cast distract from the truth that “Allegiant” is an offensively bad film. It is lazy written. Its thread-bare plot obviously merely justifies its silly/needless love plot and some sort of poorly explained war between factions.
The “Divergent” series feels the soulless and cynical end product of focus groups who asked “what do young folk want?” But this insufferable and patently bad franchise is apparently the price movie audiences must pay — for every “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and “Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” audiences are fed YA garbage such as the “Twilight Saga,” “The Mortal Instruments,” “Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2” and the entire “Divergent” series.
Final verdict: Oh god, there’s one more of these turds on the way (series finale “Ascendant” is scheduled for release June 2017). A warning to anyone who hasn’t seen either previous “Divergent” movie — every film in this series is a watered-down, worse version of the lamest aspects of “The Hunger Games” series. To anyone who has endured “Divergent” or “Insurgent”: please just stop now — these movies are just progressively getting worse and worse.
“Allegiant” opens in theaters nationwide March 19. The third film in the “Divergent” franchise is rated PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements, and some partial nudity.