“The Divergent Series: Allegiant” Movie Review


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     It seems as though I’m having to write what ends up being practically the same review every few months, as the time frame is minimal between chapters in the latest millennial fantasy film franchise.  Having barely recovered from the unnecessary two installment finale of “The Hunger Games”, as well as the second stanza of “The Maze Runner” which premiered just two months prior, it seems the arrival of yet another “Divergent” film feels unwarranted.  But as long as these films allow studios to print gobs of cash each year, I suppose these young adult novels turned films will continue to be churned out by each respective franchise annually, or until the current generation grows out of them.  The central problem plaguing “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” is the same issue shared by every young adult franchise with the exception of the original “The Hunger Games” which should be given credit for essentially inventing the narrative these films continue to utilize.

     With so many obvious similarities, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to evaluate these pictures since the experience feels too often like you’ve been there before with other characters.  Four (Theo James) is practically interchangeable with Dylan O’Brien’s Thomas in “The Maze Runner”.  Same goes for Tris (Shailene Woodley) when compared to Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss, who is without a doubt the character the “Divergent” films most desperately wants Woodley to emulate.  The standard narrative would have these characters occupying a dystopian society run by old people who seem to keep all the good stuff for themselves (they’re rich), while the young people stop buying into what they're selling and slowly revolt.  And every sequel requires an additional layer in the form of a new bad guy so as to give our young heroes another obstacle to overcome.  Quite frankly, the material presented in “Allegiant” has now become tired and unoriginal.

     With the sudden death of the nefarious faction leader, Jeanine (Kate Winslet), at the end of 2015’s “Insurgent”, the people of Chicago no longer feel imprisoned within the walls that surround the city and begin making their way out of the city in order to find and discover life other than own.  The city’s new leader, Four’s mother Evelyn (Naomi Watts), clashes with the various factions and their leaders, believing it is best for everyone to stay in Chicago, while ordering her security teams to keep people from attempting to leave by force if necessary.  You may recall in the previous film when Tris unlocked the box near the end, she was told of the fact the entire Chicago population and their segregation into factions was the grand experiment of the Bureau of Genetic Welfare.  Basically, as the story goes, society as we know it was done in by genetically modified egomaniacs who destroyed the world’s population.  Those who survived looked for ways to mend society, but discovered nearly everyone was genetically damaged, thus the experiment of putting people together in a city, but assigning them to various groups based on their dominant characteristics.  As we know, a person who is divergent, such as Tris, is pure genetically speaking and indicates to those running the experiment that society can finally move forward. 

     “Insurgent” director Robert Schwentke is back at the helm for “Allegiant”, and provides a by the numbers film whose high points appear to be a creative and well thought out production design, but also suffers from a fatally flawed script, courtesy of Noah Oppenheim (“The Maze Runner”), Adam Cooper (Exodus: Gods and Kings”), and Bill Collage (“Tower Heist”), which has the characters spouting out short and hammy dialogue which appears to function as placeholders between action scenes.  All the worse, since the film is loaded with talented actors including the aforementioned Naomi Watts, who is joined by Jeff Daniels, Octavia Spencer, and Miles Teller, who in particular is absolutely wasted in this film as some sort of annoying comic relief.  And while Schwentke is forced to give up on having intelligent characters populating his film, he does manage several notable action set pieces, each of which are fueled by well thought out technical concepts such as the drones which follow and protect the Bureau soldiers as they fight.

     The plot centers around the escape from Chicago by Tris, Four, and a small group of supporters.  When they finally get through the wall, despite Evelyn’s attempts to stop them, the group encounters the Bureau, who assure them they are now safe and bring them to their ultra advanced base not far from Chicago itself.  At this point, I wondered if I was re-watching “The Scorch Trials”.  What’s hilarious is the first thing Daniels’ David character tells the group is that they have been surveilled during the Chicago experiment for decades in near similar fashion to “The Truman Show”.  When Tris and Four arrive, they are instantly recognized as if famous by everyone there, since all of the Bureau’s people have watched them grow up and endure the events of the first two films.

     Of course, not all is what it seems with David and the Bureau as their good intentions are soon questioned in the exact same manner as every young adult character has before them.  The whole scenario has become repetitive to the point I no longer understand what the current generation of young people sees in these films.  And all you leave with after your viewing of “Allegiant” is the knowledge that several questions you won’t exactly be dying to know the answers to will be revealed in next year’s “Ascendant”, which is a sneaky bit of title changing since that film is actually part two of “Allegiant”, as the novels by Veronica Roth are a trilogy and their is no fourth book. Par for the course I suppose, since the studios and filmmakers seem as though their only intent is to milk these things for every penny they are worth.  GRADE: D