‘The Divergent Series: Insurgent’

Reviewed by Mitch Burns

Directed by: Robert Schwentke (Flight Plan, R.I.P.D., RED)

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, Mekhi Phifer, Zöe Kravitz, Octavia Spencer, Ray Stevenson, Maggie Q, Daniel Dae Kim, Jai Courtney, Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd

‘The Divergent Series: Insurgent’ is the sequel to 2014’s ‘Divergent’, if you didn’t get that from the title. Nice that these young adult films assume there audiences are too stupid to know this film is a sequel without putting the franchises first film in the title, case in point ‘The Hunger Games Catching Fire’ or ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon’.

I’ll be up front with you, the reader, right now, going into ‘The Divergent Series: Insurgent’ I could barely remember a thing from the first film, I know I didn’t like it, and I had my reasons, but it’s frustrating that a film could be so unmemorable. Well, it’s more of the same for the sequel, as I’ve plopped myself down 4 times now to try to write the review, and can barely think of anything to write. It’s one thing when a movie is glaringly bad, those films I can write 1500 words or more on without even blinking, but when a film is so utterly bland and unmemorable, you have to wonder which is worse.

‘The Divergent Series: Insurgent’ begins with the bad guys, the Dauntless controlled by Jeanine (Kate Winslet), uncovering a box hidden our hero Tris’ (Shailene Woodley) parents house. This box is a MacGuffin of this highest order, an item used to drive the plot further with barely an explanation, if this box has a name I don’t remember it nor is it online anywhere i can find. Jeanine sends her minions out to find Divergent’s (What Tris is), Divergents are the only ones who can open the box.

Let’s discuss this box for a moment, Where did the box come from? Why would Tris’ parents want to hide it? The box is said to have a message from their city’s founding fathers, so why wouldn’t they want to open it up and hear what the message is? On top of that, Jeanine and her crew happen to have a whole room filled with the height of technology, in order to try to open this box just in case the box happens to come along. nothing about it makes much sense.

After the events of the first film, Tris (Woodley), Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller) and Caleb (Ansel Elgort) are hiding out with the Amity faction, the peaceful faction. The Faction is led by Johanna (a criminally underused Octavia Spencer), who feels she must hide them but will not tolerate any sort of fighting in her peaceful village. This doesn’t last long, and Tris and her group must soon leave as they are being hunted by Jeanine’s dauntless lackies.

I won’t delve into the plot much longer, as ‘Insurgent’ doesn’t have too much going for it, a pretty simple, predictable plot. There is a lot of wishy-washy characters, who don’t have sound morals, one moment they are bad, then good, and vice versa. Over all though, the film is just a lot of walking or moving on to the next plot point, one plot point ends, some walking and talking happens, another plot point happens, and then more walking and talking, as I said, it’s pretty unremarkable.

What’s really sad is the films incredible cast, and to hear the likes of Kate Winslet spouting such terrible dialogue is abysmal, the script is stale and even Woodley’s terrific acting can’t bring any emotion to it. I honestly didn’t know Naomi Watts was in the film but it was pleasant to see her show up, but she still isn’t given much to do. Winslet is fun to watch in her role, her character may be a little dumb, but her acting makes up for it. Ansel Elgort’s characters is almost has something there but it’s squandered, while Miles Teller continues to prove that he is an up and comer to watch. Theo James as Four is likeable in the role, but he is just a decent sidekick to Woodley’s Tris, nothing more. I also haven’t seen much from Maggie Q before, but I like her as an actor and I am excited to see her in more.

The best part about the 2 hour film is the last 15-20 minutes, The film actually comes to an interesting conclusion, one that gives the film a satisfying “End”. If you didn’t know there were two more films coming, you could be satisfied with how ‘Insurgent’ ends. The end is predictable, as is the whole movie, but it is still interesting.

If you were a fan of ‘Divergent’ chances are you will enjoy ‘The Divergent Series: Insurgent’, as I enjoyed it a tad bit more just for the end and the interesting actors sprinkled throughout. The story itself is below average, it’s been done before and better, with better direction and writing it might have been something interesting.

Grade: D+

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