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‘Divergent Series: Allegiant’: Outside wall, Tris loses her way

Four (Theo James) and Tris (Shailene Woodley) in "The Divergent Series: Allegiant." | Murray Close/Lionsgate

I spent a lot of the time watching the third film in the “Divergent” series thinking, “Huh?” There were so many holes in the storyline, plus inconsistencies — both from author Veronica Roth’s original underlying material, and from where we left off in the last film — that I was both confused and deeply disappointed by this very unsatisfying movie.

Fans will recall that at the end of last year’s “Insurgent,” we witnessed Evelyn (Naomi Watts), the leader of the “factionless” citizens, executing the cruel dictator of Chicago, Janine (Kate Winslet) — with the suddenly “freed” Chicagoans running toward the ominous wall that had imprisoned them for a couple of centuries.

But at the very beginning of “Allegiant,” the wall is still in place — highly electrified against all who would breach it — with new dictator Evelyn and her minions doing all they can to prevent the Chicago denizens from venturing out into the forbidding landscape.

The look of the land beyond the wall is completely different that what we’ve glimpsed — if only fleetingly — in the previous films. As the quintet of Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and Peter (Miles Teller) make it over the wall, they confront a Martian-like, scorched-earth landscape, clearly the remains of some kind of worldwide nuclear disaster or war.

From there, things progressively get more confusing and often very silly. We quickly discover there is a super-colony of humans who have been treating Chicago as a biological and psychological laboratory for all this time. Via very sophisticated spying mechanisms, the “damaged” people in Chicago — long divided into the now-discarded factions — have been constantly observed by those living in the seemingly idyllic hidden community run by the mysterious Bureau, led by the equally mysterious David (Jeff Daniels).

The problem at this point in this ongoing journey of the “Divergent” saga is that we increasingly have become less and less interested in the protagonists, including the two key ones: Tris and Theo.

The two lovers become briefly estranged, as Tris initially believes David and his plan are the true way to a more utopian future, while Theo smells a rat. Yet, all of this is quite unengaging and the film devolves into a mish-mash of people running around chasing each other — but to what ultimate end?

Hopefully, things will be brought together far better in the fourth and final “Ascendant” film being released next year — based on the second half of Roth’s third book in her “Divergent” trilogy.

The principal actors and actresses do their level best to deliver solid performances as they wallow in the mediocre script they were forced to follow, but it’s not enough to lift this disappointing film to the heights we were hoping it would achieve. The special effects are among the more positive aspects of “Allegiant,” but those alone cannot rescue this highly flawed sequel.

★★

Summit Entertainment presents a film directed by Robert Schwentke and written by Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage and Stephen Chbosky, based on the novel “Allegiant” by Veronica Roth. Running time: 120 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for intense violence and action, thematic elements, and some partial nudity). Opens Friday at local theaters.