Review: The Divergent Series: Allegiant, C-
Rated PG-13, 121 minutes
The latest film installment of "The Divergent" series, "Allegiant," loosely based on the best-selling Young Adult novels from Veronica Roth, is the distant yet more forgettable YA cousin to "The Hunger Games," which did the futuristic dystopian world far better. Slick, shallow and blandly entertaining, its primary point is to celebrate diversity, though it seems to only skim the surface, and Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss is nowhere in sight. Tris (Shailene Woodley) escapes the walls of Chicago with Four (Theo James) along with Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and Peter (Miles Teller) and the corrupt leadership of Evelyn (Naomi Watts) and the ensuing war she is promoting. For the first time ever, they leave the only city and family they have ever known in order to find a peaceful solution for their embroiled city. Once outside, they discover a new suburb called the Bureau, led by David (Jeff Daniels), who could be their biggest ally or their biggest enemy. Directed by Robert Schwentke, who handled the previous installment, "Allegiant" is well-cast and filled with some serviceable visuals, but is so concerned with its appealing packaging that the substance of Roth's novel (which fans of the novel series will notice, like the other installments, has been changed considerably in the adaptation to the big screen) is lost; the middle act is sluggish and the final one is a big cheese ball, with Emmy-winner Daniels chewing up the screen as the villain here in the absence of Kate Winslet, who was killed off in the second film. It doesn't help that much of the main cast is wasted: the lovely Woodley seems too passive here, the handsome James is always posing, while the wise-cracking Teller tries to get in the most one-liners. The baffling plot, having to do with genetic modification, is heavily altered from Roth's novel and may serve only to generate more questions than answers, which might be the reason there's a part 2 (and thankfully the final film) to this chapter, called "Ascendant," due out next year. There are a few decent action set pieces, but they're far too brief, and don't really add up to much in the mildly entertaining but otherwise forgettable and overlong "Allegiant," standing as a puff piece next to the far better "Hunger Games." One central plot point of the movie has to do with injecting a memory serum to make people forget all their bad memories. A dose of that wouldn't be a bad idea after seeing this movie.