The Divergent Series: Insurgent(2015)
- RatedPG13 /GenreAction, Science Fiction
‘Insurgent’, the second instalment of ‘The Divergent Series’ – as the movie franchise based on Veronica Roth’s young-adult novel trilogy is now officially called – will need some effort to gain its footing in the already crowded genre.
The sequel to the 2014 'Divergent', though now unburdened by backstory, fails to propel Roth’s mythology forward.
At best, it is an extended final act of the first movie, repeating and rehashing some of the themes touched on before.
For first-timers new to this movie series: Just like the inhabitants of ‘Hunger Games’ Panem, the characters that people the futuristic dystopia in ‘Insurgent’ are segregated into factions by their character traits – Erudite (intelligent), Amity (passive), Dauntless (brave), Abnegation (selfless) and Candor (honest).
Theo James (left), Shailene Woodley (centre) and Miles Teller (right) in a scene from 'Insurgent' | Photo: Golden Village Pictures
And in this future, teenagers such as Tris (Shailene Woodley) who are a special breed called “Divergents”, are tasked to saving everyone from a totalitarian government.
Following the massacre of her parents and the other members of the ruling Abnegation faction, Tris – along with boyfriend Four (Theo James) and friend Peter (Miles Teller) – are hiding out with the people of Amity.
Their own faction, Dauntless, has become the military arm for the Erudites, and the trio must plot their next move with the help of Tris’ brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort).
Jeanine (a snarling Kate Winslet), the power-hungry leader of Erudites, is hell-bent on destroying Tris and the rest of her kind, until she discovers that Tris has the ability to open an ancient box passed down by their society’s founders.
SO MUCH STAR POWER WASTED
Kate Winslet plays a power-hungry leader in 'Insurgent' | Photo: Golden Village Pictures
Director Robert Schwentke squanders his chance to expand the world that Neil Burger started in the first film.
A lot of time is spent on exposition and unnecessary subplots that do not do justice to the story.
Hollywood up-and-comer Woodley definitely deserves better than this. She is more than capable as Tris but the movie pushes its own heroine to the sidelines instead, reducing her to a supporting role in her own story.
Yes, Tris shoots and fights, but most of the fighting and winning here is done by her lover. James, as Four, ably steps up to the plate, doing all the heavy lifting to drive the story forward.
With all the star power at its disposal, ‘Insurgent’ ends up wasting their talent: Naomi Watts’ estranged mother, Evelyn, is sorely underwritten, while Octavia Spencer’s Johanna, the leader of Amity, despite showing up to work, plays just a minor role here.
Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Zoe Kravitz, Daniel Dae Kim and Jai Courtney round out the cast, mostly playing stock characters.
Perhaps some of the most exciting things happen when Tris enters the virtual reality environments, some of which channels ‘Inception’-like dream-within-dream sequences and action set-pieces.
These are probably the only scenes worth watching.
‘Insurgent’ opens 19 March 2105