At the Movies with Alan Gekko: The Divergent Series: Allegiant

MPAA Rating: PG-13/ Genre: Sci-Fi Action/ Stars: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Zoe Kravitz, Maggie Q, Ray Stevenson, Daniel Dae Kim, Bill Skarsgard, Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts, Rebecca Pidgeon, Xander Berkeley/ Runtime: 121 minutes

In the world of modern YA fiction film adaptations, it has evidently become the fashionable thing for the film studios to chop the last book in the various YA series’ in half. Indeed while this trend started with Harry Potter it was only a matter of time before soon enough Twilight, The Hunger Games, and even The freaking Hobbit did its own version of this same idea with varying degrees of success. Of course it is also important to know that the major risk that comes with this strategy is that you end up with a penultimate movie that does nothing more than just spinning its wheels and thus find itself with not enough fuel to finish the job. Indeed while the franchises mentioned above are all guilty of this to a certain degree, I think it is extremely safe to say that The Divergent Series: Allegiant, upon seeing it, has just, much to my inner anger and frustration due to having to sit through it, revealed itself as the most wheel-spiniest installment of any of these YA adaptations that I have ever freaking seen as well as one of the most tedious and just straight up boring and dull as well…

The plot is as follows: So we pick up almost immediately after the conclusion of The Divergent Series: Insurgent which, spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it yet (though I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t), revealed to us as an audience and the characters in that film as well that the city of Chicago was a grand experiment meant to try and help the human species to perpetuate on what we are shown is to be a red, crater-filled, scorched Earth that literally looks like it could’ve been ripped straight from Fallout freaking 4. Thus, needing to know more about the research plus the goals of the program, meet the people running things, and to get a paycheck in the process, Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Peter (Miles Teller), and Christina (Zoe Kravitz) make their way over the walls that have kept them trapped in Chicago their whole lives and, after some walking around Fallout 4 Earth, discover the Bureau of Genetic Welfare and an enigmatic man named David (Jeff Daniels) who also happens to be the man running things. Yet with  factions, huh thought we’d gotten rid of those in the last movie….guess not, led by Johanna of Abnegation and Evelyn Johnson of the Factionless starting to build towards all-out war against each other, Tris must convince David to intervene in the experiment before it’s too late and the violence spreads…(Dun-dun-dun!!)

Now I think it is safe to say that The Divergent Series: Allegiant certainly has its place in the larger narrative that’s been carried by the franchise since launching in 2014 as the story presents plenty of new information for the audience. The problem with that is what this movie delivers to audiences just isn’t enough to justify the film’s 121 minute runtime. Indeed while there may be new applications of visual effects not previously seen in the series it’s honestly just all flash and bang and odd gun-firing noises that simply come between horrendous scenes of drawn-out to the point that you want to pull your eyes out with a spoon exposition as well as absolutely repetitive, to the point that they become hilarious, sequences (I kid you not you will actually lose count of the number of times Tris goes up and down in a “special elevator” to visit David in his “special office”). Thus when the credits begin to roll it will most likely quickly dawn on you that what you just saw unfold before your eyes could have easily worked just as well if not way way better as just the one-hour first half of a much better-paced and just better period conclusion to the Divergent movie franchise.

Also obviously since Insurgent got away with it I think it is safe to tell you that elements from the original Allegiant novel had to change for this “adaptation” to the point that the film version even includes a big, entirely-invented out of some director or producer’s ass, climactic third act action sequence (oh how wonderful). Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your mind set, this bit of “creativity” doesn’t help things at all in no small part due to the fact that throughout the course of this freaking movie we get to witness events unfold that seriously will make you question how these said certain events made it through the editing process without somebody saying, “Wait, that doesn’t make any sense…” to the point that, while it is spoiler territory that I don’t wish to dive into, I will at least say that the movie if nothing else will absolutely leave you scratching your head wondering why in the heck an open-air city like Chicago would need a giant ventilation system set up all around the city not to mention leave you wondering how the hell was this was never brought up in the first 2 movies by any of the freaking characters.

Now the cast in this, I’m going to just be absolutely honest with you, either look bored out of their freaking minds (Octavia Spencer, Shailene Woodley), look like they can’t believe what they are in and still trying to process it (Theo James), are simply here to fulfill a contractual obligation that they are now wishing they had never made in the first place (Naomi Watts, Miles Teller….especially Miles Teller, and Zoe Kravitz who gets maybe 3 lines in the entire freaking movie), or who are just there playing the same old character they do in every freaking movie (here’s looking at you Ansel Elgort). I mean it says something when a movie that is this bad’s ONLY solution towards even remotely trying to fix things, as opposed to A solution towards trying to fixing things because of how bad it is, is the remarkable character actor that is Mr. Jeff Daniels. Yet this freaking movie does the unthinkable and absolutely wastes this remarkable man and his clearly superior acting talents in what amounts to nothing more than a 2D role that Daniels, luckily for him (I guess) seems to be phoning in because even he can clearly see what a stinker this movie is.

Now in addition to having its main cast, save for the game Daniels, being absolutely dull and listless, The Divergent Series: Allegiant also suffers from the fact that this really feels like the first feature in the on-going “franchise” that has started to feel the weight that is this series’ own not-so-fantastic legacy. A legacy which mostly consists of earning not even close to the level of acclaim or even fanfare that Harry Potter and The Hunger Games did. Indeed while Lionsgate has, oddly, fully invested in the four-course schedule for roll out over four years, there just simply doesn’t exist the passion or high energy required to keep an audience fully invested. Yet while there are attempts to construct and look at deeper themes – specifically a surprisingly prescient message about focusing on what unites us instead of divides us as humans, the emotion and story just isn’t there to drive it all the way home. Plus you know there is a problem with a movie when the bad guys’ “evil plan” actually sounds a whole hell of a lot more practical than what the young adults’ “plan” consists of as well as a hell of a lot more realistic…

All in all while the opening two chapters of The Divergent Series were alright, I can easily say that Allegiant, despite a game performance from Jeff Daniels, is the first in this series to really be legitimately bad. Indeed while there still could have been a shred of hope that 2017’s The Divergent Series: Ascendant could have done the unthinkable and actually redeemed the direction of the quality that this franchise ship is going, the director of this stinker really didn’t do the follow-up any favors with how he left things at the helm. Indeed while early on the biggest issue that this franchise possessed was that it was simply too complex in the establishment of its sci-fi world it is easy to say that after seeing the way this one turned out I think that issue had now given way to a much bigger and much worse set of hurdles for this franchise to overcome. On a scale of 1-5 I give The Divergent Series: Allegiant a 2 out of 5.