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The Divergent Series: Allegiant Review

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After dismantling the faction system and unseating Kate Winslet’s tyrannical Jeanine, Tris (Woodley) and Four (James) set out to discover what lies beyond the city’s walls. Meanwhile new leader Evelyn (Watts) is clamping down on the populace and publicly executing her opponents.

★★★★★

With a future society seemingly based around Cosmo personality quizzes (Shailene Woodley: mainly Cs) and made up of people with no surnames, Divergent didn’t begin with the most lucid of premises. Unhelpfully, follow-up Insurgent muddied the narrative further with a secret box, a hidden message and the revelation that ‘Divergents’ are normal, after all. Instead of bringing much-needed clarity, Allegiant piles on yet more bamboozling mythology to flummox and confound.

Beyond the city walls, in a compound made of glass and white LEGO, lives the Bureau Of Genetic Welfare, overseen by Jeff Daniels’ smirking David. Ensconced in a tower (complete with double-helix staircase — subtlety, be damned!), David watches over the social experiment in Chicago, trying to weed the genetically pure from the chromosomally challenged.

A eugenics überplot isn’t the daftest tack, but the pieces don’t fit together and Allegiant falls into the hole occupied by so many young-adult sci-fi yarns, escalating the conflict at the expense of logic, its own rules, and good sense. What’s worse is that Shailene Woodley’s Tris, who so gamely carried us to this point, is left all but forgotten. The former guerrilla fighter is relegated to bovine acquiescence for much of the film, with Theo James’ Four left to unravel the bulk of the conspiracy alone.

As is now the fashion with YA adaptations, Allegiant is but the first half of the finale — its conclusion, Ascendant, won’t surface until next year — and the plot-fudging is partly a result of this. But while there’s still time for the story to right itself, mired as it is in gene wars and amnesia gas, it’s hard to summon much energy for the struggle to come.

Competent but neither Consistent nor particularly Coherent.