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The Divergent Series: Allegiant (2 stars)

Jeff Daniels joins the ‘fun’ for the penultimate instalment in the popular YA franchise

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The Divergent Series: Allegiant

‘I just never imagined the world to be this big,’ marvels our heroine Tris in Allegiant, the third part of the Divergent franchise. For those who have followed the adaptations of novelist Veronica Roth’s YA trilogy, this sub-Hunger Games story has been hitherto set in a walled-off futuristic Chicago, with the population divided into factions. But as Shailene Woodley’s protagonist learnt during the finale of preceding episode Insurgent, it’s all been an experiment.

Allegiant sees Tris and love interest Four (Theo James) make a break for it, scaling the electrified walls in the film’s most adrenaline-fuelled scene. Accompanying them is Tris’ brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), the still-not-to-be-trusted Peter (Miles Teller) and the resourceful Christina (Zoë Kravitz). On the other side? A radioactive wasteland called the Fringe and, beyond that, the high-tech Bureau of Genetic Welfare, led by the too-smooth David (Jeff Daniels).

Rather like the earlier episodes, which smartly employed Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer (the latter pair re-appearing here), Daniels’ casting is the film’s saving grace. By comparison, the younger stars flounder with their one-dimensional roles, particularly James, who spends most of the film throwing punches. Woodley also struggles with a character that, unlike Jennifer Lawrence in the Hunger Games films, is getting less interesting with each passing movie.

Directed by Robert Schwentke (Insurgent, RED), there are times when Allegiant feels like kitsch sci-fi – with its palette of reds, yellows and oranges – but without the requisite camp humour. Hampered by a plodding pace and average visual effects, the action is also repetitive (how many times can Teller be the turncoat?). Perhaps next year’s Ascendant – taken from the second half of Roth’s Allegiant novel – will crank up the heat as it brings matters to a close. Until then, this tale of teenage revolution seems contented just to simmer.

General release from Thu 10 Mar.

Allegiant

  • 2 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 121 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Robert Schwentke
  • Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoë Kravitz
  • UK release: 10 March 2016

Tris (Woodley), Four (James) and friends scale the walls and trek beyond the radioactive wasteland, only to encounter the Bureau of Genetic Warfare and its boss (Daniels). The younger actors struggle with underwritten roles, Woodley in particular, with Tris becoming less interesting with each movie. Plodding, humourless…

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