The Divergent Series: Allegiant
Directed by Robert Schwentke. Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Naomi Watts, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Jonny Weston, Maggie Q, Jeff Daniels, Bill Skarsgård, Emjay Anthony, Rachel Hendrix, Autumn Dial, Courtney Hope, Keiynan Lonsdale, Lyon Beckwith, Ben Levin, Julie Ivey, Octavia Spencer, Nadia Hilker, Maria Howell, Michael Beasley, Amy Parrish, Robert Dane Goodwin, Nea Dune, Jordan Price, Daniel Dae Kim, Andy Bean, Deja Dee, Joseph David-Jones. Written by Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, from the series of novels by Veronica Roth.
Early on in the new Divergent sequel Allegiant, our small team of heroes escape certain capture by the ruthless faction that leads now-war-torn Chicago by driving away with some forged paperwork.
When the guard realizes he’s been had, it’s too late: they’re meters away. He throws his hat to the ground and shakes his fist like Buford T. Justice in Smokey and the Bandit.
Later, as our heroes scale the giant wall that separates Chicago from the post-apocalyptic wasteland that surrounds it, the bad guys finally catch up with them. At the top of the wall, instead of crouching down or leaping to the other side to avoid the gunfire whizzing by, one of our heroes pauses, stands tall, and takes in the beautiful view that now surrounds them.
Of course, they’re shot dead on the spot.
These are just two early moments of this intensely silly young adult post-apocalyptica, the third in the series following the not-bad Divergent and the bad-bad Insurgent, which now feels like a series of special effects and action sequences strung together by the most simplistic and clichéd story tissue imaginable.
At the outset, a small group of survivors of the War of the Factions – “divergents” Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Christina (Zoë Kravitz), and Tori (Maggie Q) – decide to hightail it out of Chicago when the remaining population seems destined for further war. They’re joined by series nogoodnik Peter (Miles Teller) and Tris’ traitorous brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) for reasons of plot contrivance.
So they get out of Chicago and into the Brave New World, a Mad Max post-apocalyptic desert peppered with flourishing cityscapes and adult authority figures that they can now, finally, trust, after two movies of usurping and revolting against the same. See also: The Maze Runner, etc.
Logic be damned! The formula calls for tension between our two leads, who have spent the past two movies learning to trust and love each other, so when Tris and Four get to the Bond villain lair of “David” (Jeff Daniels) they’re immediately separated and turned against each other by a man they’ve known for a good five minutes.
Shailene Woodley still feels miscast as an action movie heroine, especially when compared with, say, The Hunger Games’ Jennifer Lawrence, and perhaps the filmmakers sense this: for 90% of the movie, she’s given nothing to do other than take a tour of the post-apocalyptic society with David, who extols an endless amount of plot exposition that sounds just fascinating. Oh, she’s the chosen one, you say? The hope for the future of mankind? Just like in the last two movies?
Suffice it to say that – shock, horror – not everything is hunky dory in the real world beyond Chicago, which for some reason feels less stable and advanced than the faux society within city limits set up in the first film. Go figure.
The climactic events of Allegiant involve a threatening mist that causes complete amnesia and slowly billows out in plumes from the buildings around Chicago.
It’s not quite The Mist, or even The Fog – this bright red gas is so dense that it immediately drops to the ground in heavy clouds, where it slowly accumulates and threatens to maim our heroes and other innocent civilians should it rise to nose-and-mouth level (all of whom, mind you, run out into the streets screaming instead of staying inside and shutting their windows).
Will Tris and co. stop the toxic mind-wiping mist before it turns Chicago into a city of amnesiacs? You’ll have to watch to find out. But audiences won’t require such drastic measures: this silly trifle is so forgettable it will be out of mind within minutes after the credits roll.