There’s no other franchise quite like “The Divergent Series”. The arrival of “Allegiant”, the third part of the now customary four-film adaptation of a trilogy of young adult books carries with it a sense of tedious inevitability and little else. If that sense of sunk cost is present in the audience, it’s nothing compared to what the cast are clearly feeling as they trudge wearily through the motions of the increasingly convoluted and stupid saga. Never has regret at signing a multi-picture deal been so eloquently and movingly portrayed on screen.
Having brought down the faction system, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) set out to explore beyond the wall which encircles Chicago. While they and their friends seek out the rest of humanity, encountering the Bureau Of Genetic Welfare, within the city walls a brutal civil war threatens to engulf the factionless population.
Returning director Robert Schwenke brings nothing new to the table as he struggles to inject momentum into the moribund story. Hampering things further, there’s a real cheapness to the whole film this time around which suggests that, like we all are, Lionsgate are keen to get this over and done with without unduly adding to their already sunk costs. The special effects are noticably poor, at times rivalling “London Has Fallen” for general shoddiness. Larger scenes are terribly staged, with an obvious and obnoxious sound mixing that gives inadvertently hilarious prominence to a number of ‘whispering’ or baying extras. The story itself manages to find new ways to be stupid, repetitive and redundant, further compromising the pacing which is already suffering from stretching out too stupid a story across too many hours solely to provide the necessary box office boost of a two film finale. There’s a revelation late in the film from the main villain which is so profoundly wrongheaded that it literally undermines everything that’s gone before and renders much of the events of “Allegiant” completely pointless. There are, of course, sequences which work well but when one of the highlights of your movie is the militarisation of the Child Catcher from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, you take your pleasures where you can.
Characters arbitrarily change their allegiance (heh) and change back in a way which would make even C Montgomery Burns and his trademark changes of heart blush. With little thought for consistency or authenticity, the betrayals and defections are, for the most part, obvious and predictable. There’s one character in particular whose continued survival despite a shameless revolving door attitude to loyalty simply beggars belief. Tris continues to be a heroine/ leader whose sole purpose seems to be to make Katniss Everdeen look shrewd and authoritative but for the first time in the saga, she’s completely overshadowed by Four who gets the lion’s share of the action and heroics this time out. Now that the story has dismissed with the sub-“Matrix” style virtual reality battles, the story seems content to revert to a more traditional roles for leading man and leading lady.
“Allegiant” maintains the series’ plodding, dull and derivative teen dystopian tropes but this time out they’re particularly threadbare. The visuals are lacklustre and the dialogue risible however thanks to Four’s stronger arc and a few good action sequences – at the expense of every other character – this is ever so slightly more entertaining than the other “Divergent” movies. There’s no denying it’s the best “Divergent” movie so far, but in this case, context is everything.