The second instalment in the dystopian franchise I suspect will not disappoint fans of Veronica Roth’s young adult fiction trilogy. However for the general moviegoer the film though well mounted feels engineered and orchestrated, Insurgent plays like a series of set-pieces designed to create a substantive whole, yet the end result leaves you unfulfilled.
We pick up with Tris (Shailene Woodley) experiencing nightmares, when we left her in last years Divergent her parents had been murdered in front of her, she has been left without a faction and forced to go on the run with Four (Theo James). Insurgent picks up in the peaceful commune/faction Amity where Tris, Four, Caleb and Peter have sought sanctuary. This is short lived as enemy soldiers led by Eric (Jay Courtney) discover their hiding place and mayhem follows. An impressive action scene involving a fast moving train and gunfire provides a hope for a more exhilarating experience than what is delivered. The film follows Tris and Four as they make their way back to the city to do battle with the malevolent Jeanine (Kate Winslett). She wants a Divergent to unlock the secrets inside a mystical box, that is supposedly from the founding fathers. On the way back Four/Tobias meets his estranged mother Evelyn (Naomi Watts) “I always loved to watch him sleep," and Tris must battle her demons to prevail against the dark forces. Other factions come into play including Candor and Erudite but if you are not familiar with the codes and language of this world it doesn’t really matter.
Replacing Neil Burger (Limitless) in the directors chair, Robert Schwenke (Red/Flightplan), brings a technical efficiency to proceedings. Fight scenes are efficiently choreographed and the use of CGI is appropriate to the demands of the story. Three writers are responsible for reducing Roth’s complex story to under two hours, including Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) and Mark Bomback (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). Woodley holds everything together with her commitment to making Tris a complex, kick ass heroine. Miles Teller has fun as the ambiguous Peter who struggles to reconcile which side he is playing for. The prospect of two final instalments sounds as if the producers are stretching a concept remarkably thin for the purpose of making a small fortune.