The Divergent Series – Allegiant (2016) film review by Frank Ochieng.

The first compulsion is to reach for an unflattering label when dubbing the third installment of the ‘Divergent’ series as ‘the poor man’s Hunger Games’. Sure, the comparison was inevitable but all the ‘Divergent’ editions had to do was prove that the unfair comparing and contrasting were wrong. Well, the knockoff status was indeed warranted and unfortunately this copycat YA SF serving of a harried heroine and her excitable dystopian dealings never mustered up the kind of distinctive expectations that failed to fuel this flaccid futuristic fable. Hence, ‘The Divergent Series: Allegiant’ is an over-stuffed mechanical continuation of a familiar film franchise trying desperately to fulfil its colourful action-packed whimsy left over by its pumped-up predecessors.


As mentioned, ‘Allegiant’ is the third episode of the ‘Divergent’ movie series. Of course, Veronica Roth is the literary voice responsible for the books on which these films are based. Jokingly, one would probably imagine that both Roth and ‘Hunger Games’ author Suzanne Collins are twin sisters seeing as though their imaginative wells of creativity are similar in style and content. The only difference is that Collins’ notable blueprint registered with forceful reception while Roth’s wannabe material was like an identical shadow trying to break out in its own shade.

Basically, ‘Allegiant’ (much like the rest of the YA genre) is a glorified teen soap opera bombarded with awesome ray guns and youthful cynicism aimed at the controlling over-30 Establishment. Distrust and disillusionment is the recurring theme and the penalty for being young, attractive, repressed and rebellious is a cautionary tale for those that want to challenge the sinister Authority. As with ‘The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen (played by Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence), we are subjected to ‘Divergent’ diva Tris Pryor (Shailine Woodley) as the feminine firecracker ready to spring into action defeating the aging forces threatening their post- apocalyptic presence. Unfortunately for Woodley’s Tris, she does not possess the explosive brooding or riveting material and eye-opening challenges that Lawrence’s Katniss was blessed with from the get-go. At least one common denominator is clear: both badass babes have totally catchy, cool-sounding names, right?

The sluggish plotting in ‘Allegiant’ revisits the enclosed post-apocalyptic Chicago where various ‘factions’ of young folks are furiously fighting with one another. The tension is percolating big time as the trapped youthful residents are growing increasingly restless. The disenchanted Tris, along with her studly boyfriend Four (Theo James) and group of rebels, decide to break out of their Chicago-bound doldrums and climb the wall to escape their entrapment. Of course’ this means crossing over some treacherous terrain to reach a more, idyllic surrounding. The destination, as it turns out, is the comfortable haven for the monitoring overlords spying their every step.

"We're young, good-looking, armed and in peril so why are we referred to as HUNGER GAMES lite? Oh the madness..."
“We’re young, good-looking, armed and in peril so why are we referred to as HUNGER GAMES lite? Oh the madness…”

Thankfully, Tris and her bunch stumble upon a picturesque civilisation headed by leader David (Emmy-winner Jeff Daniels). The surroundings look idyllic but David is very shady because his agenda is to recruit the pure and precious Tris for his genetic experimentation. With Tris as his main guinea pig, the devious David can plan on using his experimental agenda on the under-privileged pretty kids back in the walled-off Chicago. The educated guess is that David most likely would extend the same kind of testing treatment for ‘the Fringes’ as well (they are the masses that exist outside the wall of Chicago in less flattering pockets of the region).  In any event, Tris represents the ideal vision for his replication of purity and perfection to be transferred to the ‘damaged’ souls out there. While Tris is intrigued by the CEO’s intention for bettering the impoverished population, Four is skeptical about David’s focus on his gun-toting honey bunny.

To say that ‘The Divergent Series – Allegiant’ is clunky and convoluted, even for a showy older kiddie caper, is an understatement to say the least. Director Robert Schwentke is basically on autopilot here as the cameras roll while capturing the drawn out degrees of splashy stunts, showdowns and bombastic special effects flourishes. The silly-minded plot and utter familiarity of the ‘Big Brother watching over the young perished pretty people’ feels empty and repetitive at its compelling core. One cannot perceive the transparent concept of ‘Allegiant’ going through the motions without looking at this anemic actioner as a convenient means to bridge the upcoming remaining installments to protect its promising box office clout. So for those looking forward to ‘Ascendant’ please hold your horses because this is what ‘Allegiant’ strives for…to make one salivate over the next due edition to this tiring movie series.

In the world of ALLEGIANT, these polished pretty people are the post-apocalytic "rebels with a cause".
In the world of ALLEGIANT, these polished pretty people are the post-apocalytic “rebels with a cause”.

Curiously, the head-scratching trend of established veteran actors such as Daniels and Naomi Watts (playing Four’s mother Evelyn, one of the crafty Chicago leaders gone defiant) signing on to frivolous fare such as the popcorn-driven ‘Allegiant’ begs to wonder if they, as older performers, need to cater to such money-making, youth-oriented throwaway entertainment just to stay relevant (yeah, both Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore did the same for ‘Hunger Games’). Consequently, ‘Allegiant’ comes off as nothing more than an over-extended cat-and-mouse game with the aforementioned stylish ray guns. In fact, viewing ‘Allegiant’ should at least give one the impression that they are experiencing a totally different chapter of Woodley’s Tris Pryor’s trials and tribulations. Oddly, ‘Allegiant’ is not distinguishable from its other entries and that certainly says a lot about the flexibility for this slight and breezy SF actioner to find a suitable and varied identity of its own.

Sure, ‘The Divergent Series – Allegiant’ and perhaps ‘Ascendant’ will offer more of the same and if this is something that its avid fans do not mind then fine, knock yourselves out to your heart’s redundant content.

The Divergent Series – Allegiant (2016)


2 hrs. 1 min.

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Ray Stevenson, Jeff Daniels, Zoe Kravitz and Miles Teller

Directed by: Robert Schwentke

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Genre: Science Fiction/Action & Adventure/Fantasy/Romance

Critic’s Rating: ** stars (out of 4 stars)

(c) Frank Ochieng 2016










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