The already low-flying, low-effort Divergent series sinks one rung lower on the ladder of young adult adaptations, because though there’s no Jai Courtney in the franchise anymore and the cast remains excellent, Allegiant is by far the most tedious and laughably off-base of the three movies to date.
The evil Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is dead, and so Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) venture beyond the wall encasing Chicago to view the outside destruction first hand. This leads Tris to meet David (Jeff Daniels), the leader of the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, who has a tantalising proposition for Tris that could help save the world.
Though the title doesn’t suggest it, Allegiant is yet another case of a final novel being split into two movies, what with the second half of the story being renamed “Ascendant” (due for release next year) in the hope that it’ll avoid the diminishing returns that these blatant cash-grabs typically “suffer” from (while still printing a shedload more money than had they been one single capper). It’s a pretty cheeky move, and not one justified by the end product, which clearly strains to reach a passable run-time…and then exceeds it by a good 20 minutes.
And of course, the cast are largely just here for the bucks; Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer return in soporific, thankless roles, while Daniels mostly spouts exposition, James is still not much more than a generically attractive block of wood, and even the lovely Woodley seems bored and pre-occupied here. And then there’s Miles Teller, who knocks out the cheesy comic relief one-liners like he wishes he was literally anywhere else, save for perhaps the Fantastic Four set.
The aching self-seriousness of it all, the atrocious visual effects, mechanical dialogue and generally predictable narrative (if you don’t see the real villain coming a mile off, you probably fell asleep) conspire to make Allegiant a palatable offering for only the most undemanding tween audiences, and fans of the source material who will soldier on out of a sad sense of duty to it.
We still have one more to go, and considering that Allegiant was a divisive book among fans, it’s possible that Ascendant could very well bring the worst yet. At least it might feel a little more urgent than this plodding, over-reaching cash-grab.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant is in US cinemas now and US cinemas March 18th