Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Theo James, Jai Courtney, Kate Winslet, Miles Teller, Zoë Kravitz, Naomi Watts
Directed By: Robert Schwentke
Written By: Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, Mark Bomback
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 1 hr 59 min
Over the last 20 years, I’ve been happy to witness film studios produce their franchise projects with a little more care and attention. It seems they finally understand that a well produced series of films ultimately puts more box office gold in their pockets. While audiences get another decent experience at the theater with characters they know and love. Arguably these future box sets are not all that ambitious or overly creative, but it’s still a win-win for everyone. I honestly believed the days of the horrible sequel were numbered. But that’s me, being the hopeless optimist again. Insurgent proves the crappy cash grab sequel phenomenon is still alive and well.
Insurgent takes no time to reacquaint the audience with its lead characters, or the dystopian world they live in. So unless you’re a fan of the books, or still have the memory of last year’s film fresh in your mind, nothing in this production will make any sense. You’re sort of dumped back into this world, and given very little time to get your bearings. And it’s pretty bad when a film loses you that quickly. I for one started to think about the other films these young actors had starred in over the last year – Whiplash, The Fault in Our Stars – you know? Good films!
Following the terrible start, the film quickly moves on and just gets worse and worse. Making no logical sense at all as it mindlessly throws characters and situations together, with little or no idea of where the story is headed. Was the book this bad?
Take the movie’s central plot. Jeanine (Kate Winslet), wants to kill every Divergent citizen and control the other factions. She believes a small magical box holds the key to how she might achieve that goal. But here’s the thing, she needs a Divergent citizen to open it. You read that right – she believes the box, that needs a Divergent to open it, will contain the information she needs to restore her segregated world, and remove the Divergent problem. Does that make any sense to you?
This is just the tip of the Insurgent ‘grapberg’ however. The script is chock-full of idiotic contrivances, bland dialog, and the action sequences are sloppily arranged. I was also very aware of the camera in this movie. As it excessively swooped, hovered and zoomed around the characters and locations. The visual effects were surprising bad in places too, and one obviously computer rendered Tris (Shailene Woodley) falling off a building really surprised me. It is still 2015 right? Given the success of the first film, it’s shocking such a poorly rendered image got into the sequel.
Insurgent takes a promising franchise, and nearly kills it. It’ll likely be known as the weakest in the series (they’re making two more of these), as I can’t imagine it could get any worse. But there I go again, the eternal optimist!
You absolutely need to watch the first movie or read the book again before watching Insurgent. It won’t make any sense otherwise. The movie is rated a box-office friendly PG-13, so the violence is mostly bloodless.
There are some neat visual moments in the film, so a big screen experience is recommended. If you wait for the rental, get the HD version to watch on your TV. A portable viewing will not help this film at all – and it needs as much help as it can get!
The egregious waste of talent: Kate Winslet, Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. Who often seemed lost in this movie.