'The Divergent Series: Allegiant'
The second ‘Divergent’ movie made slightly more money than the first in the global market, so now we have a third chapter. The main knock against the series thus far is that it feels rather redundant to ‘The Hunger Games’, and whoo-boy that sure hasn’t changed!
If fact, now that the whole “faction” concept has devolved, this is another revolutionary tale with leather-clad kids fighting somber adults. I’d imagine that if you cut any random sequences from this movie and spliced them into either of the last two ‘Hunger Games’ flicks, they’d flow together indistinguishably. It’s getting increasingly hard to care about this lazy series as it wears on, and this time even the cast seems rather disinterested. One would hope that would be enough to end the franchise in its tracks, but then again it seemed impossible that audiences could fall for either of the previous ‘Divergent’ flicks, so it’ll probably make money again.
Last time, Shailene Woodley’s superheroine
KatnissTris busted down the faction system and offed evil leader Jeanine. The city of Chicago was finally opened up so that everyone could move past factions and discover the new world. This time, a brunette (and therefore evil-ish) Naomi Watts closes that wall and kicks off a war against Octavia Spencer. Why? Because the story needs conflict and action sequences, silly. So Tris, generic boytoy Four (Theo James), Peter (a distracted Miles Teller, who’s minimal screen time may as well be watermarked with the words “Contractual Obligation”), Christina (a wasted Zoë Kravitz), and a perpetually pouting Caleb (Ansel Elgort) leave their little world.
The new city they find is all shiny and sleek, in contrast to the leather-and-rubble world that they know. However, it’s run by an adult (Jeff Daniels), and if there’s one thing you can be certain about in YA dystopian fiction, it’s that any adult authority figure is untrustworthy and evil. If only there were an earnest and special teen girl with a frequently shirtless BF who could possibly bring them down. Gosh… I wonder what will happen!
Yes, it’s the same old routine, in another story about the perils of conformity. The twist this time is that biological testing comes into play and the world is divided up into those who are genetically perfect and those who are “Damaged.” Sigh… Do you get the message yet? Don’t worry if you don’t. The screenplay that took no less than three writers to cobble together lays on the subtext thick enough to be considered text. It’s hard to miss anything and it’s not particularly deep anyway.
The opportunity to create some new visuals in a new world is completely blown as well. Instead of being a mix of cyberpunk and The Gap (where everyone lives in rubble, yet are somehow perfectly dressed and styled at all times), the new land feels like a cross between a ten-year-old Apple commercial and an Ikea catalog. In other words, it’s all new yet completely generic. I suppose that sums up the movie as a whole, so at least director Robert Schwentke (‘R.I.P.D.’…
shudder) manages to make his aesthetic match his content.
The few action scenes we get don’t amount to much, just a bunch of half-interested actors making faces against green-screen backdrops in between scenes of their CGI avatars running and jumping and so forth. There’s not much to get excited about on a visceral level unless you’re a viewer who has never seen an action movie before.
While it’s nice to see actors like Daniels, Watts and Spencer in a franchise movie that will pay their mortgages, they unfortunately all seem to have been given the same direction: “Never change your facial expression and always say your lines with a tone somewhere between a growl and a yawn.” I suppose that helps them blend in with the nearly indistinguishable cast of gym-toned youngsters who scowl constantly. Only Teller is allowed to do anything other than scowl or mumble. He’s permitted to be snarky, so that’s all he does without variance. Even Shailene Woodley, who always seems to bring life and vitality to her roles, is stuck here. She has no real growth in the movie. She’s here to spout or listen to exposition and little more. It’s a thankless job and her performance is the acting equivalent of a feature length shrug.
Why does the protagonist have no growth or arc, you ask? Well, because in keeping with the ‘Divergent’ series’ commitment to rip off everything about ‘The Hunger Games’, the last book of the trilogy has been split in half. All the story revelations and closure have been delayed to a fourth film due next year. This movie is essentially a $100 million exercise in biding time. It opens with characters running through a wall to the outside and ends with them bursting through that exact same wall to the exact same destination. Aside from a single villainous twist that even the characters predict accurately thirty minutes before the reveal, essentially nothing happens in ‘The Divergent Series: Allegiant’.
Even if you’re a fan of the franchise, you may as well just wait for the next chapter because this is just two expensive hours of brooding and marching in circles. Is this really what kids want from movies these days?