Insurgent | Film review – Tangled in backstory, Shailene Woodley’s feisty maverick fails to penetrate the waffle

Insurgent - Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort

There’s a tad more visual flair and a tad more violence in the second instalment of The Divergent Series based on young adult novelist Veronica Roth’s bestselling trilogy, yet Insurgent still looks like an anaemic Hunger Games clone.

The filmmakers even have Shailene Woodley’s feisty heroine Tris running through verdant woods in the opening minutes, a pale imitation of Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen. She is now a fugitive in her dystopian future world, a fenced-in Chicago whose citizens are divided into five personality-based factions – Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candour (honest), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (brave).

Tris, of course, is Divergent, a maverick boasting all five attributes, and this makes her a target for Kate Winslet’s ruthless Erudite leader, who is hunting for the one ultra-special Divergent with the ability to unlock a mysterious box. What’s inside? Do you care?

nsurgent - Kate Winslet

Roth’s Divergent world is so ridiculously complicated and unconvincing that the plot becomes snagged at every turn, the characters tangled in knotty exposition. Winslet’s villain is always watchable, a chillingly fascistic alpha female, but Naomi Watts’s newcomer Evelyn, leader of the Factionless faction, fails to penetrate the waffle and even Woodley, so good in her other screen roles (such as The Descendants and White Bird in a Blizzard), comes off relatively poorly.

Towards the end, the action picks up and some of the hallucinatory simulations Tris goes through in her bid to unlock that box do raise the pulse a little, but it probably won’t be enough to leave viewers yearning for the series’ final two instalments.


Certificate 12A. Runtime 119 mins. Director Robert Schwentke.


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