It’s that time of the year again: we have another Divergent movie at our disposal. The third film in this stretched-out YA franchise, Allegiant is one of the most predictable movies to be released in 2016, especially if you’re one of those that have had to sit through not just series, but also the equally-extraneous Maze Runner series. Because you’ve been on this trip for far too long (even if it’s only been just over two years), you can pretty much map out all the key plot points that are going to transpire on screen. Whereas Divergent just felt like an over-extended prologue in order to set up the characters and their world, Insurgent felt like a natural progression with plenty of solid action sequences. But in the case of this, it doesn’t solve any of the problems of the previous two films and just ends up taking many huge steps backwards, resulting in a quagmire of drawn-out exposition and bland characterisation. It is the worst of the series, and that’s really saying something.
This re-treads a lot of familiar ground and repeats a lot of the same narrative beats and devices from the first two (another mind control scheme is included), but rather than improve or elaborate on them it feels like a lazy rehash more than a proper sequel. The CGI is very distracting this time around, looking so obviously fake and synthetic, and the sci-fi interiors and exteriors of the Bureau look like something that was completely ripped off from Tomorrowland, which incidentally looks superior in comparison. Plus, there are multiple plot holes and lapses in logic that will only leave you feeling more and more frustrated as the movie goes on, and when the movie attempts to give you answers to all of these contrivances, knowing makes it even more confusing.
But, perhaps what’s more frustrating, is how bad the characterisation is this time around. Sure, Veronica Roth’s concept of people divided into different personality factions still sounds like a stretch of the imagination, but we did see some fragments of real development previously (especially in Insurgent). Here though, all that development is squandered. Caleb is still a gooseberry, Peter is still a double-crossing arse, Christina is still just sort of there, and Four is still the same as he’s always been, and actually steals the role of the main protagonist from the ACTUAL main protagonist in Tris Prior, which only ends up taking away her agency as a result. Tris this time round ends up getting downgraded, and for a lot of it is reduced to a duped idiot as she is slowly being manipulated and conned by Jeff Daniels’ obviously slimy David. Can we have Kate Winslet back please?
Sure, there are some ambitious ideas thrown here and there, Shailene Woodley is still a solid lead, and Miles Teller is great as a snarky twit, but even those elements aren’t enough to save this pudding of a sequel. Instead of trying to expand upon its core themes and concepts by developing them, Allegiant just bogs it all down in a stodgy mess of CGI and poor storytelling. Granted, it’s not as bad as Gods of Egypt or TMNT: Out of the Shadows, but that’s only because it’s just so boring. Plus, this idea of dividing the last book into two movies is starting to wear thin now, which only speaks bad omens for the forthcoming Ascendent. Still, at least there’s no Jai Courtney this time around, so that’s something, right?
THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: ROBERT SCHWENTKE / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: SHAILENE WOODLEY, THEO JAMES, ZOE KRAVITZ, MILES TELLER, NAOMI WATTS / RELEASE DATE: JULY 11TH