After a daring escape, what they find is a fully-functioning society, led by David (Jeff Daniels). He informs the crew that Chicago was a big experiment and that there is a council searching for those who classify as genetically "pure." So far, there's only one who is completely pure- Tris. After a failed meeting with the council makes him upset, David enacts a new plan to do things with.......brainwash gas? Yeah, there's a lengthy segment of this movie devoted to a megalomaniac's plan to kill people with poison gas. And then it just kinda ends. I don't know, after a while, the movie really lost me and I stopped caring about whatever the filmmakers were trying to do.
Oddly enough, this time around the movie actually gets off to a fast and entertaining start. Even riding off the dull and sleep-inducing Insurgent, this installment finds itself with a significant amount of momentum at the start. Joseph Trapanese's thundering, thrilling score sets the stage with a brash energy, and that is carried over into the film itself. Lots of things happen in the opening minutes of Allegiant, and while some might find it overwhelming, I found it to be quite refreshing. It felt like there was a purpose, a trajectory that director Robert Schwentke was setting for the movie. The wall escape and the accompanying chase is undoubtedly the best setpiece that this franchise has seen so far, giving the movie a nice jumping pad to start on. As Allegiant began, I was actually compelled and maybe even mildly invested in the story. It was quite the shock for me.
And then the movie just sits there. For the other 90 minutes, not a single thing of interest or intrigue takes place. There's some talk about genetics, some mumbo jumbo about "pure" people, a lot of moping, an unsurprising twist and a dopey action conclusion that gives you no indication of where this franchise is headed. The plot jumps around, characters hop in and out of the story, and the action grows increasingly numbing as the film moves on. I sat with a blank expression on my face, watching as literally nothing happened on screen that hooked me into the story at all. After a promising start, this was just straight-up demoralizing.
For those who don't follow this whole YA adaptation game closely, Allegiant is the title of the final book in the Divergent trilogy, which was then split into two movies (Allegiant and next June's Ascendant). Usually, when a book is split into two movies, the first film in the set feels incomplete. It's supposed to be half a movie- that's why Mockingjay-Part 1 and Deathly Hallows- Part 1 were incredibly unsatisfying. And yet, both of those movies got by with promising bigger and better things to come in future installments. An odd thing happens with Allegiant. Somehow, it feels like a complete story. When it's over, it almost feels like the franchise is over. For some, this might sound like a net positive, especially after I complained about previous splits feeling incomplete. In reality, it's the farthest thing from a compliment that I can give this movie.
Allegiant doesn't feel like the first part in an epic conclusion because this franchise has lost its way completely and totally. It no longer has any idea what story it wants to tell or why they're telling it. There's nothing to promise for future installment because I don't think they even know what they're going to do with them. The best they can do now is throw some stuff up on the screen and hope that it sticks. And in Allegiant, they get lucky for the first 30 minutes. It's a good start. But after that, the internal logic of the movie is annihilated. Allegiant gets lost in its own universe, which is a universe that unfortunately doesn't include the audience. There are almost no words to describe how this film leaves you feeling at the end. It's a soul-sucking feeling, an emptiness that only the worst of Hollywood franchises can provide.
THE FINAL GRADE: D+ (4.8/10)