The Redundancy of Allegiant

Are you excited???

The Divergent is in its third installment movie already and the franchise feels awfully familiar. Even the critics say it is hard to see what exactly distinguishes this young-adult series from its competitors.

The characters each get a new tattoo and the locations change, but there is nothing very Divergent in the third screen adaptation of Allegiant, with four-part series based on Veronica Roth’s bestselling YA trilogy.

This handsomely made effects-driven vehicle offers more of the same and then some with director Robert Schwentke returning to the helm and a cast lead by Shailene Woodley suiting up for another sci-fi actioner where big ideas are often bottled down into resounding clichés. This is something that will hardly bother fans who have already pledged their allegiance to the franchise, but won’t convert any nonbelievers

Slicing Roth’s final novel into two separate movies like ‘The Hunger Games’ and giving us a world-within-a-world conundrum like “The Maze Runner” I making it hard to see what exactly distinguishes this series from its competitors outside an initial premise which had a certain hook to it however ridiculous.

But we are left with a familiar Brave New World-type scenario where Woodley’s Tris Prior takes on an evil empire that wants to turn humans into genetically purified puppets now that the various personality factions of ‘Divergent’ and ‘Insurgent’ have been dissipated.

This is far from a Dauntless enterprise to be Candor about it and one often gets the impression that Allegiant was designed by an algorithm trying to please the maximum amount of viewers with the minimum amount of flair or intelligence despite four credited writers.

Any movie where the lead character says “I think we’re finally going to be okay,” in about 20 minutes guarantees this is not going to happen, and yet it takes Tris a good hour to figure that out while everyone in the audience is already several beats ahead of her.

The film’s opening reels have a certain panache to them Despite such obvious flaws especially after Tris and four along with heir assorted allies or former foes flee a city on the verge of civil war toward a no man’s land that lies beyond a massive concrete wall. The fact that the city is meant to be dystopian Chicago and the no man’s land controlled by a fiefdom at O’Hare Airport less than 20 miles away somewhat detracts from the wonder of it all. But at least these are real places.

The early scenes allow Schwentke and VFX supervisor Stefen Fangmeier to dish out some impressive effects-pieces and coating Tris and her buds with blood-colored acid rain that pours down on the apocalyptic landscape they hike across. Then afterward with a Matrix-like slime meant to decontaminate them when they arrive at the Bureau of Genetic Welfare where they learn that their beloved Windy City is actually just a giant laboratory experiment under constant observation. What Schwentke and his skilled craft team have done is set up the major confrontation of the last chapter at best and providing one or two action highlights along the way.