Still resembling a second-rate Hunger Games, The Divergent series of dystopian sci-fi adventures reaches its third instalment, Allegiant, deploying Hollywood’s now familiar gambit of splitting the final part of a bestselling saga into two money-spinning movies.
Yet young adult novelist Veronica Roth’s bestselling trilogy is evidently a much flimsier platform than Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games books. The storytelling here is so muddled it gives the impression the filmmakers are simply making things up as they go along.
To recap, as the story’s exposition-spouting characters are often obliged to do, the last film saw Shailene Woodley’s feisty heroine, Tris, defeat fascistic Erudite leader Janine (Kate Winslet) and shatter the personality-based faction system in a post-apocalyptic Chicago. Her victory, however, has not ushered in an era of sweetness and light. Instead, Naomi Watts’ grim guerrilla chief is presiding over a vengeful mob and civil war seems imminent.
So Tris and her allies, including her lover Four (Theo James), brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and the slippery Peter (Miles Teller, as snarky as ever), scale the giant wall enclosing the city and break out.
The escape is a reasonably brisk burst of action and the toxic wasteland that lies beyond the wall is appropriately bleak, even if the look has been pinched from Mad Max: Fury Road. But the film runs into trouble when Tris and co land up in the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, a high-tech compound run by Jeff Daniels’ blandly affable – but all too obviously devious – bureaucrat David.
The arrival of Daniels is good news for any movie, yet he too is saddled with reams of bum-numbing exposition. His revelations aren’t just boring; they instantly undermine the logic of the series’ previous two episodes. Worse still, the more we learn about Woodley’s messiah-like heroine the less interesting she becomes.
In the closing stages, director Robert Schwentke tries to whip up some race-against-time suspense involving a memory dissolving nerve gas, but the action is so lacklustre and confusing that only the most allegiant of fans will remember to turn up next year for the series’ resolution.
Certificate 12A. Runtime 121 mins. Director Robert Schwentke