So after really digging Divergent, I went out and read Veronica Roth’s novel. Turns out, it’s one of those weird situations where the film was better than the book on which it was based. All the exciting narrative moments were there, but it was all told through Tris’ perspective, which meant there was a hell of a lot of introspection. It was poorly paced and overwritten. I started ‘Insurgent’ but couldn’t finish it, instead hoping that the film would once again improve on the source material.

InsurgentPicking up five days after Divergent, the second film shows Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James) and the others on the run after ruining Jeanine’s plans for taking over the city. This gives us the opportunity to see some of the other factions – since the first film only really focussed on Abnegation and Dauntless – namely Amity, Candor and the factionless. Meanwhile, Jeanine (Kate Winslet) plans her revenge whilst awkwardly talking to herself. Poor Winslet has some awful dialogue to work with here, and most of it involves standing around looking uncomfortable.

Once more, this is Shailene Woodley’s film. Tris is still a fantastic character and her performance is stunning in some particularly intense moments. Her chemistry with Theo James is palpable, whilst Miles Teller has fun playing an dropkick. Ansel Elgort’s Caleb, Tris’ brother, seems to get sidelined for a lot of the film, such that we really don’t get a sense of what’s going on with him.

The action is fantastic, and this is when the film really comes alive. Tris’ proclivity for violence is always satisfying to watch, and although Woodley doesn’t seem to have the muscle mass required, most of Divergent was taken up with watching her train to become a killing machine, so it’s easier to believe. Where the first film had a definite focus, however, Insurgent’s plot feels lacklustre. It doesn’t help that the climax is the least exciting part of the film, or that the characters spend a lot of time being captured, escaping and then being captured again. It’s also possible that the presence of director Neil Burger was one of the things that made the first film work so well.

Your enjoyment of this will hinge on whether you liked the first one. Insurgent doesn’t rely on quite as many classic sci-fi clichés as Divergent did, but it’s a weaker film. However, all the prominent roles are played by women, which is a good indication of the glacial changes going on in Hollywood blockbusters. Insurgent is a perfectly satisfying use of two hours, but I hope that things return to form for Allegiant, which is – of course – being split into two films.

Rating: 3 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 3rd April 2015
Hoopla Factor: 3 stars

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