Anyone who has read my last review on a post-apocalyptic Young Adult book-to-movie adaptation knows that I am not impressed with these kind of movies. I simply do not find YA movies able to capture the essence of what a crumbling society would look like because it must be sanitized for young adult audiences and be filled with overused themes. This doesn’t even mention the fact that the acting is usually bad and the story dynamics often fall apart.
But the Divergent series was different to me. I found enjoyment to be had while watching Divergent and even Insurgent. This was largely due to how great Shailene Woodley is as an actress, but I also remember the ensemble of characters to all be acceptable in their role, and the narrative stuck together enough to where I could still enjoy both movies without turning my brain off.
So it pains me excessively to say that Allegiant is an incoherent and lazy mess.
Shailene Woodley and company all somehow gave terrible performances. Every single actor in the movie seemed like they were just there to get a paycheck and leave, like they knew the movie was going to be terrible and they didn’t even try to save it. Woodley in particular was exceptional in how bad she was. There was a scene where something bad happens to one of her friends, and she tries to act distraught, and it was so terrible that I had to keep myself from busting out laughing. There are so many of these scenes that fail at evoking the attempted emotion they were going for.
The entire script is a sloppy catastrophe. I was begging the movie to have the dialogue teach me something new about the characters so that I could care about them as human beings and care about their struggles, and instead it gave me a bunch of cliches, observations I could have made on my own, or various uninspired drivel. Everything just felt so fake or thrown together out of obligation.
Because Jeff Daniels was the only fresh face in the movie, I was hoping Allegiant would get better when he came to the screen; maybe everyone else was just tired of being in the Divergent series. Instead, his character goes nowhere and I honestly cannot pin down what his motives even were. It was clear from the trailers he would become an eventual villain in the series, but the entire time he was executing his “plan”, I just kept thinking “whyyyyy?” Daniels’ role essentially becomes some soulless caricature of a obligatory villain because the movie really provides no clear motive as to why he’s a bad guy in the first place.
There’s also this concept that they introduce in this movie that wasn’t in the first two (this will get a little spoilerish… if you care that much about it, then skip this paragraph): that not only is Tris “Divergent”, but she’s also genetically pure. For a while, I was hoping they would expand on what exactly makes people genetically pure, but they never do. At first, I thought it had something to do with behavior (because they essentially say that Tris has a perfect balance of empathy, courage, charity, knowledge, and truth), but then they have Tris do things that contradict her having perfect behavior, and all the other “genetically pure” people at the compound also don’t demonstrate perfect behavior… so what the heck is even so important about genetic purity when there is no definable difference between the genetically pure and the genetically non-pure? If you’re not going to explain it, then why is it even in the movie (you know… aside from forcing the plot through)?
There’s so much stupid stuff in the movie that I almost want to go back and re-watch Divergent and Insurgent and see if they were actually good. I tried to find a differentiation, in regards to writers or directors, that separated the first two movies from this one, but there really wasn’t one to be found. The screenwriters change for every movie, and they kept Insurgent’s director for Allegiant. Regardless of what made this one so terrible, this is just another cog in the terrible YA film machine, and I’m giving this movie a 3 out of 10.