Review: ‘The Divergent Series: Allegiant’ Is Not Worth Following

Handsomely made but devoid of any resemblance of humanity, The Divergent Series: Allegiant is a wielded-out, hollow shell of a movie. Its only mission in life is to bore as many people as it possibly can.

Summit’s painfully pathetic, flat-out desperate attempt to gain the worldwide phenomenon popularity of spent YA teenage action-adventure sagas like Harry Potter, Twilight and, most recently, The Hunger Games, the Divergent franchise has remained a limp, uncreative slog of a film series since day one. There’s little-to-no emotional investment in these characters, the tropes were already worn-out well before part one came to the screen and every plot point feels predictable or played-out beyond repair at this point. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and effort; it’s the cinematic embodiment of a failing student furiously scribbling in answers to his final exam well after the dismissal bell has rung. Allegiant is a measly, pitiful excuse for a movie —one with a hundred-something million-dollar price tag, no less — that spends more time justifying its worth than developing anything worthy, entertaining or original. The Divergent Series truly reaches the pinnacle of its infuriating dullness (at least thus far) with this meandering excuse for a third film.

It’s a slippery slope of diminishing returns at this point, quite honestly. There’s nothing about Allegiant that hasn’t been seen before, or done better at this point. There’s no complexity to its themes, no depth or hard-hitting political commentary to its message. It comes across like fan-fiction written by a sixth grader. That it somehow got a Hollywood production is disgraceful, and its embarrassing to watch all these extremely talented actors — including Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer and Jeff Daniels — degrade themselves trying to make anything worthwhile out of a movie that’s solely a contractual obligation on everyone’s part. It’s hard to imagine what made Summit want to continue putting Veronica Roth’s best-selling book series onto the big screen, since nobody musters up any sense of pride or passion in their work. This movie is as stiff and flaccid as a blockbuster can possibly get these days — one where you never, for a second, forget you’re just watching a bunch of people walking around reacting to green screens where, eventually, VFX effects that are merely-acceptable-at-best will be slap-dashed on.

I imagine watching The Divergent Series: Allegiant is not dissimilar to how aliens would feel if they were watching a telecommunication of human behavior on their alien monitors in outer space. The flat, monotone presentation of the film, laced with little effort on anyone’s part to make these characters talk or sound like living-breathing people, provides a sobering, alienating comatose state. It draws your attention to the little things like how bad the background extra are, the shallowness of the sets or the alluring smell of donuts that mysterious wafts over you in the theater because nothing at the center of the frame is anything close to interesting or appealing.

Robert Schwentke, the man who also directed Allegiant’s insufferable predecessor Insurgent last year, returns to make yet another uninspired, disinterested, wholly bland installment. Any attempt to make something visually interesting or emotionally invested are completely drained out of this series’ system at this point. It’s as if they know nobody is the wee bit invested in our main characters or the struggles they face in their dystopian future, and they just decided to throw up their hands, make a shiny, thematically vacant dullard that’ll appeal to the studio and call it a day.

Normally I’d delve into a plot synopsis or something around now, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin at this point. Again, I can’t stress this enough, this is such a meandering, meticulously uninviting film. It never, ever lets you get invested in the action, the suspense, the mystery or the non-existent excitement of it all. If this soulless sequel refuses to care, so will I. As Allegiant prattles on in an endless tirade of sterile, consequence-free action, it practically dares you to try not to fall asleep. The guy sitting next to me, along with several other people in the theater, couldn’t pass the test. With four hours of rest in my system, and zero motivation to get involved with the threadbare mechanics of the plot, I wish I could say I joined them.

But I wanted to keep my integrity, just so I could write this review. I think I made a horrible, horrible mistake. What am I doing with my life? Seriously, what am I even doing at this point?

Maybe I’m just getting too old for YA adaptations. But I really, truly have nothing against them. I usually give them the benefit of the doubt, at least. Every once-in-a-while you’ll find a pretty good one, like Beautiful Creatures for instance. While I’m sick of everyone, their brother and their mother trying too hard to make whatever licensed property they own become the next big thing, usually they make an admirable effort to stand out against the tide, or make something that’s, you know, worth all the mythos and world-building they produce on-screen. But with seemingly little-to-no desire to respect Roth’s source material or any fans she has at this point, it’s bewildering why Summit would have the persistence — scratch that, the gull — to have The Divergent Series hobble and trench its way to the finish line. Where most unsuccessful wannabe-franchise igniters call it quits after they fall down the first time, the Divergent series — like its poorly defined characters — continues to rail against popular opinion and fight the good fight. It would be admirable if —much like the Atlas Shrugged’s pitiful attempt to build a trilogy — it didn’t mean we had to watch more and more of these godawful sequels.

I’m not going to pretend The Divergent Series: Allegiant doesn’t have its strengths. There are some impressive action scenes here, with some good choreography performed dutifully and surprisingly well by co-star Theo James. Though every image lacks any texture or weight, it looks nice-enough, and also the cast provide admirable attempts to make the material much better than it has any right to be. Daniels and Woodley are the standouts here, bringing a respectable gravitas that certainly wasn’t ever found in the adapted screenplay by Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage. There’s also one visually-interesting scene involving Woodley’s character seeing the world through the eyes of her late mother, played by Ashley Judd, that’s fairly involving. Not to mention one or two action beats towards the end, particularly one in a hovercraft that’s almost, dare I say, rousing in its execution. But now I’m truly picking at straws.

When the only things that get you the least bit excited for your movie are Daniels’ abbreviated presence and the faint promise of artistic nudity, you know you’re in deep trouble. And quite frankly, there’s no reason why a cast this talented and a budget this steep should produce something this listless, commonplace and unimaginative. At this point, I really don’t know if there was any way to make this third Roth adaptation good. It’s dug into a hole too deep to climb out of, it seems, and there’s no way the next film can make anything worthwhile or engaging with what they’re given. To salvage any interest towards this entirely disposable franchise is just a losing battle at this point. If anyone swore allegiance to The Divergent Series before, they’ll seek refuge elsewhere long before it comes time for Allegiant to call it quits.

Will Ashton
Will Ashton
Will Ashton bleeds his pen to CutPrintFilm, The Playlist, MovieBoozer, We Got This Covered and beyond. One day, he'll become Jack Burton. You wait and see, buddy boy.