Most franchises tend to get better, or at least more exciting, with each installment. Sadly, the “Divergent” series is doing the exact opposite. The third movie based on the trilogy by Veronica Roth is following the path of similar franchises in that the last book is being split into two movies, with “Allegiant” being the first half of the finale. Unfortunately, the film’s source material is rather thin to being with (not just in terms of plot—the novel is only a little over 500 pages), forcing the filmmakers to create filler to stretch the story into two two hour movies. And when it becomes obvious that certain scenes in the movie clearly exist only to fill space and not to contribute to the plot or character development in any way, that’s when we have a real problem.
Directed by Robert Schwentke, this movie is set directly after the events of “Insurgent,” when Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) and her friends eradicated the faction system their society lived under and killed Jeanine, the baddie of the first two films dedicated to finding and using Divergents like Tris for their powers. They discover a video from an organization existing outside the gates of their city, telling them to come rejoin society when the time has come. But Evelyn (Naomi Watts), the leader of the Factionless who has now taken control of the city, wants everyone to stay put until they know more. So naturally Tris, her boyfriend/Evelyn’s son Four (Theo James), her traitor brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), best friend Christina (Zoe Kravitz), and on-again off-again ally Peter (Miles Teller) escape and venture outside of dystopian Chicago, where they uncover new truths and potentially new enemies.
Jeff Daniels joins the existing cast this go around as David, the mysterious leader of the Bureau of Genetic Welfare who is supposedly dedicated to research that will restore humanity back to the way it was, before genetic modification damaged nearly the entire population and instigated a war. He makes for a rather dull and unthreatening villain, unlike Kate Winslet’s Jeanine, and it’s a wonder that Tris buys his lies for any instant (this causes some minor friction between her and Four that could have been explored further but wasn’t). In fact, the whole cast is rather bland, as if they are just going through the motions at this point. Teller continues to be the highlight as the slimy, often comical Peter, but even his antics wear thin after a while. Meanwhile, Tris, our heroine, isn’t given much to do, as Four seems to take the lead for much of the movie.
There are also so many scenes that are unnecessary and obviously only in the film to take up space. There’s a lot of lingering on the cool technology the Bureau has, and on the increasing turmoil in Chicago, as people form mobs and start to take the law into their own hands. A string of little incidents lead up to an unexciting climax, in which Tris and the gang must save their town when a serum is pumped into it that would erase the memories of all who inhale it (this poison gas, by the way, is conveniently thick and red so we know that our heroes aren’t in trouble so long as they don’t stand in it). With this film being part one of two, it was apparent from the start that it couldn’t have a wow-bang finish, as, similar to the “Hunger Games” finale that was also split into two parts, all that has to be saved for the next movie. But it’s just so pointless. The book easily could have been adapted into a fast-paced, action-packed movie—one movie. A series of films like “The Hunger Games” proves that blockbusters can be exciting and draw in large audiences, but can also be artful and thought-provoking. “Allegiant” is neither of those. It is the kind of movie that only exists to make money.
Runtime: 121 minutes. Rated PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements, and some partial nudity.
Check out showtimes for this movie and more at the following St. Louis-area theaters:
- Wehrenberg Theatres
- AMC Theatres
- Regal Movie Theatres
- Galleria 6
- Chase Park Plaza
- Moolah Theatre
- Hi-Pointe Theatre
- St. Andrews Cinema
- Plaza Frontenac Cinema
- Tivoli Theatre