'Allegiant -- Part 1' Falls Flat

PHOTO: From left, Zoe Kravitz, Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q and Miles Teller in a scene from "The Divergent Series: Allegiant."Murray Close/Lionsgate via AP Photo
From left, Zoe Kravitz, Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q and Miles Teller in a scene from "The Divergent Series: Allegiant."

Two out of five stars.

Rated - PG-13

Starring Shailene Woodley

Seeing brilliant actors participate in poorly written movies is never a fun way to spend an afternoon.

The sublime Shailene Woodley is back here as Tris, the protagonist in the "Divergent" franchise. Now that she’s rescued the city of Chicago from the factions, it’s time to find out what’s beyond the wall.

From the outset, director Robert Schwentke clues us in on just how bad this movie is going to be by delivering an inauthentic scene in which a group of Chicago denizens attempt to walk out of the city, beyond the wall, and are stopped by Evelyn’s (Naomi Watts) “soldiers.” The whole scene feels rushed -- almost as if Schwentke only shot it in response to a studio note asking him to make it clear that people really wanted to go beyond the wall.

While not a promising beginning, through the grace of the YANA (Young Adult Novel Adaptation) Gods, we’re treated to a decent action sequence and some top-notch futuristic, post-apocalyptic sci-fi technology. Tris, Four (Theo James), Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and Peter (Miles Teller) escape Evelyn’s troops. Also, in case you didn’t know, Evelyn is Four’s mother, so there’s that.

When they get beyond the wall, they eventually encounter the people behind the experiment that is Chicago, and those people have all sorts of cool tech -- so cool, it fools you into believing we’re about to see some mind-blowing Philip K. Dick-level stuff. So promising!

Jeff Daniels plays David, the scientific mind behind the high-tech city and experiment Tris and company learn they’ve been a part of.

Oddly enough, based on everything we’ve learned about Tris and her character, it doesn’t take much for David to convince her that she needs to help him. Like most bad stories, this is a major flaw in the narrative, because it’s inconsistent with Tris’ character. It’s also confounding the way Peter easily talks his way into a group of people he nearly had killed. Miles Teller is a likable guy, but he’s not that likable.

Perhaps this sort of flimsy storytelling will fly with fans of the first two movies and the books, but I believe "The Divergent Series: Allegiant -- Part 1" is going to alienate fans, some of whom may not even bother coming back for part two.