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‘Divergent Series: Allegiant’ is on da verge of disaster: 2 stars

'The Divergent Series: Allegiant' trailer

After the earth-shattering revelations of Insurgent, Tris must escape with Four beyond the wall that encircles Chicago to finally discover the shocking truth of what lies behind it.
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After the earth-shattering revelations of Insurgent, Tris must escape with Four beyond the wall that encircles Chicago to finally discover the shocking truth of what lies behind it.

Allegiant” may share a title with the last book in Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” trilogy, but, unfortunately for all of us, it is not the final movie.

Following the lead of the “Harry Potter,” “Hunger Games” and “Twilight” franchises, the makers of these films are sure they can split the final novel and stretch their story for another two hours.

It’s officially time for that trend to die out. “Allegiant” is so aimless and half-hearted, it only exists as a (very shaky) bridge between last year’s “Insurgent” and whatever they decide to call the fourth installment. How about “Indifferent”?

The problems start right away. After discovering a message from their “founders,” the inhabitants of far-future Chicago are ready to give up their 200-year-old social system in what appears to be a couple of hours. It doesn’t take much longer for coup leader Evelyn (Naomi Watts) to impose her own oppressive regime, thwarting efforts to go beyond the wall that surrounds the city. Her motivations are never fully explained. Get used to that.

Our heroine, Tris (Shailene Woodley), decides to lead her own band of rebels over the wall, where they find a toxic wasteland. It’s monitored by the inhabitants of a mysterious, highly advanced settlement called the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, which is just as creepy as it sounds.

The Bureau’s boss, David (Jeff Daniels), is fascinated by Tris because she’s genetically pure, which sets her apart from everyone else in her hometown. He explains that Chicago is an experiment in rebuilding humanity after a disastrous eugenics project resulted in nuclear war. He needs Tris’ help to persuade some mysterious council to help them stop the growing unrest in the city. None of this makes much sense, either.

Tris trusts David almost immediately, which puts her at odds with boyfriend Four (Theo James). She might be a special genetic snowflake, but he’s the smart one in this scenario — at least until the plot requires Tris to be brilliant again. Every character goes through these shifts, alternating between personality traits whenever the story needs a nudge.

Given the chance, director Robert Schwentke can stage a good, tense action scene, and he gets as much out of the cast as the script will allow. The special effects aren’t exactly groundbreaking, but they’re adequate for a film with so little concern for internal logic. Who cares how the Bureau’s surveillance technology could possibly work, as long as it looks cool? And how about those fun anti-radiation bubbles?

“Allegiant” wraps up in a reasonably satisfying manner, which almost makes it seem like the saga is over. But no, there’s more. Maybe the fourth film will have a tighter screenplay, a sense of momentum, a comprehensible story. The prospect of wrapping things up could energize what’s left of the series.

But that would make sense

Read more of freelancer Loey Lockerby’s reviews at suchacritic.com.

‘The Divergent Series: Allegiant’

Rated PG-13.

Time: 2:01.

What’s next?

Like plenty of successful film franchises trying to get the most out of a young-adult book series, the “Divergent” movies divide the final novel into two films.

So today we have “Allegiant,” the first half of the last of Veronica Roth’s trilogy, followed by a fourth film, “Ascendant,” wrapping things up on June 9, 2017.

“Allegiant” director Robert Schwentke declined to stay on for the final film. He told Variety he needed a break. The studio, Lionsgate, this month hired Lee Toland Krieger (“Age of Adaline”) to replace him for the last film.

Sharon Hoffmann, shoffmann@kcstar.com

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