Written by Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman and Mark Bomback / Directed by Robert Schwentke / Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Kate Winslet
Tris: I know it doesn’t make any sense but you have to trust me.
I am not now, nor have I ever been, a teenage girl. And while not being a teenage girl has not stopped me from thoroughly enjoying THE HUNGER GAMES or THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, it has caused distinct problems for me when I tried to see what all the TWILIGHT fuss was about when that was a thing. And though The Divergent Series has not inspired anywhere near as much bile from me as Bella and the shiny vampire did, it would appear as though my enjoyment of this series is in truth being limited once again by the fact that I just don’t understand certain facets of the typical teenage girl brain. And I definitely don’t understand why there is so much effort being made to make The Divergent Series into a phenomena. The thing about phenomena though is you either are one or you aren’t. It can’t be forced.
INSURGENT, the second film in the series following DIVERGENT itself, isn’t bad, per se. It just isn’t very much of anything really. The action picks up just where it left off, only now under the direction of Robert Schwentke (FLIGHTPLAN, THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE) instead of Neil Burger (THE ILLUSIONIST, LIMITLESS), whose films are only marginally better than Schwentke’s. Perhaps because the intended audience’s attention span is so small or perhaps because the first film was reasonably forgettable, we are treated to a recap of what has happened so far at the onset, which I welcomed as I could barely remember myself. Before long though, I was up to speed on where our heroine, Tris’s (Shailene Woodley) adventure was at now. She is Divergent, which is bad because it upsets the new world order of conformity above all else, and a bunch of her Dauntless faction friends (people live in factions now based on their most predominant personality trait) have taken it upon themselves to take down the man, or in this case, the woman, played by Kate Winslet, whom I just want to hug when I see her on screen in this. Tris’s mom (Ashley Judd) is dead and she feels responsible for her death, as well as the ensuing anarchy that is building around her. This is why the first thing we see her do is give herself a makeover by cutting off all of her beautiful, long hair of course.
And this is why I cannot get on board with The Divergent Series, well one of the reasons anyway. I don’t like Tris. She’s kind of a brat. And I don’t care how old that makes me sound. Not that I blame her for being upset about the loss of her parents or all the world turmoil, but watching her skulk around blaming herself for everything that is wrong with the world is tiresome. Of course, she has no problems taking a break from being a martyr to get busy with her hot boyfriend, Four (Theo James). People are dying because of a revolution she inadvertently started but there’s always time to sneak in some naked time with Four. And if that weren’t distracting enough, we then have to sit through a plot line that is more or less ridiculous in nature. Enter the magical mystery box. Winslet has it and just knows that there is a message from the elders or forefathers or whatever inside it that will help her destroy those pesky Divergents, only there’s just one catch. Only a Divergent person can open the box. Well, actually there’s another catch. It has to be a really special Divergent, like full on Divergent, like someone who possesses the attributes of every faction. Can you guess who that will be? When Winslet actually says that she is surprised the chosen one is Tris, I may have laughed out loud.
INSURGENT does have one thing going for it; it is very pretty to look at at times. It is a special effects heavy film, most of which is attributed to the simulations Tris must undergo to open the mystery box. Not to mention all the attractive, young people running around getting the job done; they certainly help make the film easier to enjoy. Aside from Woodley though (and a cocksure Miles Teller, WHIPLASH), most of the remaining young cast just barely registers anything resembling an emotion. Naomi Watts joins the cast as Four’s long lost mother but, like Winslet, I see her and don’t understand why she is there at all. In the end, INSURGENT gets from point A to point B, occasionally entertaining, occasionally inspiring unintentional laughter. Once there though, I have no clue where it is supposed to go from there. I don’t really care either but there are still two more films left in the series so I guess it has to go somewhere. Maybe Tris will get another makeover.