Taylor E., Here…
Insurgent, the sequel to the popular young adult trilogy-turned-film-series, takes place immediately following the events of Divergent. Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James), are on the run from Jeanine (Kate Winslet), who is hunting the Divergents. This action/adventure/science fiction-thriller failed to perform, but was at least pretty to watch. Insurgent would be far more enjoyable if viewed on “mute”.
The film throws you into the story after a brief plot summary via propaganda holograms playing throughout the ruins of a futuristic/post-apocalyptic Chicago. For those who haven’t seen the first film (Like me!), it’s a little confusing. You can tell the writers relied heavily on movie-goers having already seen the first film and/or read the books. My quick reading of the Wikipedia plot summary definitely helped, but I still felt like I missed a lot of important, small details, especially in regards to personal relationships. “Okay, so Four is really mad at his Dad. Why? Jeanine is really evil and hates Tris. Why? Peter is really mad at Tris. Why?”
Interactions and dialogue between characters were awkward and melodramatic. Kate Winslet’s conniving Jeanine and Miles Teller’s arrogant Peter were the most honest performances of the entire film, which was unfortunate since they were the “bad guys” and received far less screen time than most characters. Woodley delivered most of her lines in a tired whisper, while Naomi Watts (Evelyn) was reminiscent of a middle school stage actor, over enunciating and projecting to the back row of the auditorium. Most disappointing was Ansel Elgort (Caleb), who had a case of “dumb face” the entire film and delivered his lines with punctuated abruptness. Many other seasoned actors appear, briefly, in the film; Mekhi Phifer (Max), Octavia Spencer (Johanna, the leader of Amity), Ashley Judd (Tris’ Mother), Daniel Dae Kim (Jack, the leader of Candor). Disappointingly, none of these actors delivered performances that were on par with their skill, leading me to believe this was more of an issue with the director (and lack of direction). Insurgent saw a change in director from Divergent, a recent trend with many of the Young Adult trilogies that have been forced upon us.
While the acting and script were cringe-worthy, Insurgent was at least entertaining to watch. The film would have been much more enjoyable on “mute”. The ruins of Chicago has been brought to life (or death?) beautifully. The set and costume design teams did an amazing job. Each faction’s headquarters and costumes were unique and reflective of each group’s position within society. The special effects and fight choreography were also wonderful. Each fight had me on the edge of my seat, but the films PG-13 rating failed to deliver the UMPH behind the punches. No real blood is shed during any of the fights. For being such a violent film, only a few bloody noses and minor scratches are really shown on screen. Even the most brutal scenes — a falling suicide and a point-blank execution — are off screen, as they cut to black when the killing blows are dealt.
My biggest issue with the film was the ending. I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone unfamiliar with the books, so this is all I will say, “The ending of Insurgent is more disappointing than the ending of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village.”
2 out of 5 Stars
– Taylor Elizabeth