Set only 3 days days after the events of the first film, "Insurgent" spends little time recapping the events of the previous installment, and throws us right back in where we left off. Tris (Woodley), Four (James), Caleb (Elgort) and Peter (Teller) are fleeing from Jeanine's (Winslet) forces.
Erudite, lead by Jeanine have discovered a mysterious box that may or may not hold the secret to the five factions. To open the box they must use a Divergent, and put them through five virtual simulations, one for each faction. Every Divergent Erudite test cannot withstand all five simulations, only Tris is powerful enough to complete them. The virtual reality segments of the film were definitely a standout and worked incredibly well in 3D. The rest of the film however is a bit dull.
The issue with "Insurgent" much like its predecessor is the story, its just not that interesting. Coming from someone who hasn't read the books, this just felt like a repeat of the same plot we've seen before in other Young Adult stories; "The Hunger Games", "The Maze Runner" etc.
Robert Schwentke (R.I.P.D) does a nice job with the visuals and action yet lacks the ability to tell a cohesive story. The film feels repetitive and the story somehow feels jarring, especially with the character of Peter who is constantly changing which side he's fighting for, which instead of making for a complex and confused character, was irritating and predictable.
Shailene Woodley (The Fault In Our Stars) once again is the highlight of the film, she elevates every scene she's in and is constantly conveying regret and remorse in her facial expressions after the tragedies which occurred in the first film. Theo James (The Inbetweeners Movie) gave a significantly better performance here than in the first film, and had real chemistry with Woodley. Ansel Elgort (The Fault In Our Stars) and Miles Teller (Whiplash) give some of the weaker performances of their careers, I feel the blame should be put on the writing as we've seen both these actors do great things recently. Octavia Spencer (Snowpiercer) and Naomi Watts (Birdman) feel rather wasted in their small and rather insignificant roles. Kate Winslet (Titanic) who has proved to be one of Hollywood's most versatile actresses is reduced to a one dimensional villain who does nothing yet menacingly walk around a room with a clipboard. There is a significant waste of talent in the film.
I was very surprised by Schwenkte's ability to film action, he made every action scene feel intense especially a chase scene where Eric (Jai Courtney) is pursuing the group at relentless speed. I was longing for more action and virtual simulation scenes as the actual dialogue and story were rather uninteresting.
If you're a die hard fan of this franchise then this isn't a completely boring film, it just feels overly formulaic, this is due to the over saturation we're currently having to Young Adult Novel adaptations. The finale to "Insurgent" feels painfully similar to the finale of last years "The Maze Runner"....and that's not a good thing.
"Insurgent" is well shot, has a couple of good performances and some very entertaining action, but the story and characters here are nothing you've not seen before.