- I only have to play "Name That Sci-Fi Film Reference!" once, because this installment of this stale Hunger Games-knockoff really only borrows from another slightly better dystopain sci-fi series in the form of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.
- Miles Teller really is the best part of this whole movie. You can see how much he does not want to be apart of this series, and each time he speaks, the disdain comes comes through loud and clear. He knows this is a waste of his talents and his time, and he allows the audience in on the joke.
The gang's wonder at what they'll see over the Wall becomes a nightmare, as they find themselves staring at dodgy visual effects and several monotonous minutes of them walking across a rejected look of an apocalyptic wasteland from Mad Max: Fury Road. They eventually are taken in by David, the leader of the Bureau for Genetic Welfare, an organization dedicated to studying the last pockets of human civilization in order to.....I dunno, save humanity or some shit? He's also played by Jeff Daniels, who tries to lend this movie some measure of gravitas, but all he does is spend his time doing three things: 1.) spouting line after line of exposition explaining what happened to the word and what their mission statement is, 2.) spouting sci-fi techno-babble bullshit nonsense, and 3.) being the primary wolf in sheep's clothing. Yes, Daniels is the villain, and if you thought the faction system died with Kate Winslet's tyrannical matriarch antagonist, the joke's on you, because this Bureau is basically another system of putting people into factions, deeming who is "genetically pure" and who is "genetically damaged".
Remember when I said I'd be playing the "Name That Sci-Fi Film Reference" only once? I lied, because this movie not only borrows from the main plot of The Scorch Trials, but the theme of determining who is pure and who is not is also taken from Harry Potter, both book and film series. Oh, and the scientific organization/burreacracy-turned totalitarian regime trying to suppress others or an entire group of people and/or commit genocide? Ideas lifted from Equilibrium and Ultraviolet. When you're lifting ideas from that incompetent hack, you know the franchise has run out of ideas. If it sounds like this review is on 'I don't give a flying fuck!' mode, that's only because the movie's on the same wavelength. No one cares at this point about this franchise, and it wouldn't surprise me to hear from its stars like Shaileen Woodley and Miles Teller say that making these films made them go back into the indie scene, swearing off tentpole features. Speaking of the former, Woodley, who's carried the first two films on her shoulders, seems to have given up herself and just decided to cash in her check. Before, it was interesting to see her play this young woman who's coming into her own and trying to stay alive in this dystopian nightmare, but that pull and aurora she gave off on Tris Prior is long gone by the end of this movie. The other younger actors - from Egort and James to Teller and Kravitz - are stuck playing one-note characters, though Teller at least knows how shit the script and this series is, and just milks how much disdain he has for being suckered into this mess; while seasoned character actors like Spencer, Watts and Daniels aren't given enough to do and basically phone in their performances, as if they're all waiting for better roles to come along.
Unfortunately, this isn't the end of the series (though after sitting through this tired, pointless crap, you'll wish it were the end), because Summit Entertainment, like most studios these days, decided to split Veronica Roth's book into two halves, milking the udders dry to maximize profits, no matter how pointless and unnecessary it is. So in 2017, we've got the finale to the Divergent series, in the form of Ascendant, but frankly, I'm done with this series. It doesn't make sense, it borrows from other better literary and film works, and it doesn't really have anything to say, except that that they're trying to stake their claim in the YA-film adaptation market, which frankly, needs to wither away and die at this point. Harry Potter and The Hunger Games were terrific to above-average movies which resonated with audiences and had terrific production value, solid writing, a superb ensemble cast and direction that only got better as their respective series' went on. The Divergent Series, by contrast, doesn't have any of those qualities the two previous series share, and it's obvious that it never will.
* star out of ****