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Sacrifice is the theme of “Allegiant,” the third and unfortunately not final installment in the dystopian “Divergent Series,” and that’s exactly what I did in subjecting myself to its unique form of torture. I took the bullet so you won’t have to.
Let’s just put a fork in it, already, because this franchise is cooked. And while we’re at it, let’s also end the money-grab of splitting the last book in a tired trilogy into two movies.
When “Allegiant” opens, a futuristic Chicago is still in shambles, a wall is built around the city to keep out the riff raff, and traitors are put on trial. If nothing else, it’s an apt allegory for a Trump presidency. In fact, an early scene showing a loud, blood-thirsty populace resembles a Trump rally. But, the political leanings will probably go right over the heads of Generation Z, who probably really just want to see Theo James shed his shirt. That, I regret to report, doesn’t happen, except for one not-well-lit scene. It’s disappointing, as is the whole film.
This installment, directed again by Robert Schwentke (“R.I.P.D.”), picks up where “Insurgent” left off. The faction system that kept the peace for so long is in disarray. Four’s mother, Evelyn (Naomi Watts), is in charge. She’s challenged by Johanna (Octavia Spencer), who forms a new faction called Allegiant. It’s a clash of old and new ideologies.
Meanwhile, the script – from four writers – sends Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (James) over the wall into the Fringe, a post-Apocalyptic landscape that resembles something out of “Mad Max.” Along for the ride are Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Tori (Maggie Q) and Peter (Miles Teller).
There’s something out there behind a camouflage force shield. Protective plasma bubbles form around them to transport them safely from the radioactive environment to the Bureau of Genetic Welfare. You can’t make this stuff up. That agency is run by a smarmy clown named David (Jeff Daniels, totally slumming). Naturally, they’ve been expecting Tris.
Much expository dialogue is exchanged concerning damaged and pure DNA, and rescuing the damaged people to save humanity.
Tris is costumed in white for most of the movie; you can guess where she falls. Before you can say Master Race, politics and trust issues arise. Chicago continues on the verge of revolution. Tris has choices to make. Tris must not just save the city this time, “but save humanity!” Oh, the hyperbole!
Aside from some cool visual effects – when the group has to scale the wall, for example – it’s embarrassing to watch good actors subjected to material and dialogue this inadequate.
“Great leaders don’t seek power. They are called by necessity,” one character tells Tris.
One weapon used in “Allegiant” is memory serum, a drug administered to erase memories. Oh what I wouldn’t do for a fix of that right now.
Dana Barbuto may be reached at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @dbarbuto_Ledger.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels, Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts.
(PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements and some partial nudity.)
Movie review: Divergent’ series sinks to new lows with Allegiant’
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