It is not a glowing review (though they might think so) if the people you go to see Insurgent with can only come up with “It was just what you would expect” as their opinion of the second film in the film series based on the young adult book series by author Veronica Roth. Nothing special and totally underneath what I’ve come to expect from upcoming actress Shailene Woodley. It is not odd that the first film in a series is the strongest, but I was hoping that with the talent of Woodley, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Miles Teller, Janet McTeer, and Octavia Spencer this would be one of the rare ones that supersede the original. Wasn’t in that it was fairly dull and uneventful.
Futuristic Chicago is still in a state of destruction, chaos, paranoia, and divisiveness. All this under the leadership of the leader of the Erudite group, Jeanine (Kate Winslet – Titanic, The Reader). She now has a box that contains an important message that can only be opened by a Divergent. The ones she has captured and put through the five sims have all expired under the pressure. Now she is on the hunt for the “perfect” Divergent; the one with highest percentage of Divergent. She sends Eric (Jai Courtney – A Good Day to Die Hard, Jack Reacher) and Max (Mekhai Phifer – 8 Mile, Dawn of the Dead – 2004) to hunt down and test all the Divergents.
Tris (Shailene Woodley – The Fault in Our Stars, The Descendants), Four (Theo James – Underworld: Awakening, Divergent), Caleb (Ansel Elgort – Carrie – 2013, Men, Women & Children), and Peter (Miles Teller – Whiplash, 21 & Over) have all taken refuge in the Amity group led by Johanna (Octavia Spencer – The Help, Being John Malkovich). They realize that Jeanine’s goons are on their trail and so they run off. Only to get in a jam caused by the turncoat Peter. Four is able to save himself, Caleb and Tris because of his mother. His mother, Evelyn (Naomi Watts – The Ring, The Impossible), who was supposed to be dead is actually alive and the leader of the Factionless group. She offers to help them in the war against Jeanine. Four refuses and as a result unwittingly forces Tris’s hand.
Rather messy is a good description of the film. Lots of stories and sub-plots so it is hard to keep everything straight. Or even care enough to do so. When it seems like they don’t know how to explain things anymore the film just resorts to some violence or fight scenes. With no rhyme or reason a lot of the time. The special effects are rather cool and obviously a lot of time and money were spent on them, but for this film goer it is not enough.
The screenwriters and director Robert Schwentke (The Time Traveler’s Wife, Flightplan) have failed to tap into their biggest asset. The pool of acting talent. When you have Teller, Winslet, Woodley, Spencer, and Woodley to work with you have to use them. Sadly, most of their time on screen is spent on action rather than creating tension and developing characters. They are not really given characters to play. No substance or depth. Big misstep.
It is an attempt to make the Roth novels a little bit George Orwell, a little bit The Matrix and a lot of Marvel action hero films like Thor. In the end it all falls short. Don’t know how they are going to keep me interested for two more films.