By Nico Beland
Movie Review: C (2 ½ stars)
Shailene Woodley (The Descendants, The Spectacular Now, The Fault in Our Stars) and Theo James (Downton Abbey, Underworld: Awakening) return as Dauntless rebels, Tris and Four in the sequel to the 2014 hit, Divergent, based on the novel by Veronica Roth. The first film, which opened to mixed reviews at first felt like a knockoff of the popular Hunger Games franchise, at least when I saw the trailers, and parts of it did feel like The Hunger Games, I’m not going to lie.
Like when Four was training Tris and the rest of the new recruits of the Dauntless Faction, the training felt exactly like a Hunger Games training scenario, except with more physical harm, but near the climax, it felt more engaging and interesting because it didn’t have a Hunger Games feel and it felt like straight up sci-fi and suspense, which I enjoyed. Also to the film’s credit, Shailene Woodley and Theo James’ performances as Tris and Four were very solid and I enjoyed experiencing their journey through Divergence. When the first film ended I was very curious to see what was going to happen next after the events of Divergent, well that’s where this sequel comes in, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, which was definitely a darker and grittier story than last time and the Divergent simulations were much more creative this time around, but the story itself lacks details of the events that occurred after Divergent and the supporting characters could have been developed better.
Where we last left our Dauntless fugitives, Tris (Woodley) and Four (James) were laying low from the Eurudite elite, led by the evil manager of the five Factions, Jeanine (Kate Winslet-Titanic, Contagion) who are on the hunt for Divergents hiding out and exterminating them. While on the run they search for new allies to help them put an end to the Divergent hunt and put Eurudite elite out of commission.
Tris and Four visit the Factionless Division, home of the people who do not belong in any of the five Factions, where they learn about a powerful box that Jeanine obtained that can change the future of the Factions as we know it, but there’s just one problem with her plan, only a Divergent can open the box.
Jeanine and the Eurudite elite continue hunting the Divergents but now they have to bring them all to Eurudite to be experimented on so the box can be opened, however the past Divergents that went through the experiment were killed. She needs someone who is 100% Divergent (Guess who it is!) to make it through the experiment to get the box opened that could change the world forever.
So it’s up to Tris, Four, Peter Hayes (Miles Teller-Whiplash, The Spectacular Now), Tris’ brother, Caleb Prior (Ansel Elgort-Carrie, The Fault in Our Stars, Men, Women, & Children), and the Dauntless and Factionless to join together and stop Jeanine’s diabolical plot before all the Divergents become extinct.
Overall, The Divergent Series: Insurgent definitely had more going for it with its story than last year’s predecessor. Although, this one felt like an Inception style movie, with all the simulations and things that aren’t actually real that are apparently right in front of you.
However my biggest problem is the lack of detail and character development, the rest of the Dauntless are barely seen, the film doesn’t explain where Jeanine’s Divergent experimenting machine came from and it didn’t show how she obtained the box. I felt if the details were explained better and the Dauntless had more screen time, this would have been a much stronger sequel, with a more exciting story to boot.
Like the first film, Shailene Woodley and Theo James’ performances are very solid and their characters are developed well, you really want to see how they’re going to get out of these tight situations and you know a film is doing something right when the protagonists are extremely likable and engaging. Kate Winslet as the villain is just as entertaining to watch in this as it was in Divergent, although in this film she was much more intimidating and you have no idea what’s going to happen to her in the end.
It’s mainly the leads who are developed well, the side characters were barely around with the exceptions of Caleb and Peter, even the first film, despite its flaws did develop most of the characters decently, I honestly wished there was more to them other than the characters’ existence.
As is, it’s a moderately entertaining sequel with a fun plot and some exciting special effects and action. If you enjoyed the first film, you might enjoy this fine, but I just hope the story and characters are explained and developed better in the next two sequels, The Divergent Series: Allegiant: Parts 1 and 2.