It's comforting to know that far in the future - when cities are in ruin, when walls are built to keep people in (and keep them out), when elevators can go all zigzaggy into the sky - that folks will still be running around spouting clichés like "The coast is clear!" and "What's going on here?" and "We have to leave - right now!"
Much will change, but screenwriting hackery will continue to thrive.
That's one of the takeaways from The Divergent Series: Allegiant - Part 1, the worn and weathered third installment in the four-part film adaptation of Veronica Roth's postapocalyptic dystopian YA books.
The heroine here, in case you're still getting things muddled with The Hunger Games, is Beatrice "Tris" Prior (Shailene Woodley), the plucky teen who is the "divergent" - she doesn't fit neatly into any one of the factions that the powers-that-be established to make society a seemingly utopian place. Instead, Tris exhibits a nonconforming combo of traits and skills that makes her 1) a threat to the ruling order, 2) the hope for humankind, and 3) a magnet for Tobias "Four" Eaton, the hunky hero played by Theo James.
Near the beginning of Allegiant, he and Tris can be found scaling the distressed exterior of a Chicago skyscraper (I guess the stairs have been destroyed) to take in the view, and steal a kiss, and catch their breath before spending the next 90 minutes dodging gun blasts and bad dialogue.
A spoiler if you missed The Divergent Series: Insurgent, but Kate Winslet's Jeanine Matthews, who lorded over the factions with a steely gaze and a tight-fitting business suit, is dead now, replaced by the rebel leader Evelyn, who also happens to be Four's mom. Evelyn is played by Naomi Watts, looking as tough as she can as she lines up traitors and declares, "Let the trials begin - justice will be done!"
Jeff Daniels appears in Allegiant, too, as David, head of the Bureau of Genetic Welfare. He's a smooth operator, befriending Tris when she and Four arrive at his spiffy campus, far removed from the rubble of Chicago. Tris may be the only person in the room - in the universe, actually - who doesn't suspect that David may be up to no good.
Finally, on the run as Allegiant's running time winds down, she apologizes to Four: "I never should have trusted him."
There's much exposition to dispense with in order to set up the climactic Allegiant (Part 2), slated for release June 9, 2017. Director Robert Schwentke and his writing team do their best to move things along.
Actually, who knows if it's their best? Maybe they're suffering from Divergent fatigue along with the rest of us.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant - Part 1
Directed by Robert Schwentke. With Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Naomi Watts, Jeff Daniels, and
Miles Teller. Distributed by Summit Entertainment.
Running time: 1 hour, 46 mins.
Parent’s guide: PG-13 (violence, adult themes).
Playing at: Area theaters.