As one who still hasn’t seen this trilogy’s original, place setter film “Divergent” from last year, I was hesitant as to whether I’d be able to completely understand this second edition to the action thriller series. Within minutes of this movie’s start, however, viewers are armed with enough background information to understand the chess pieces involved and make immediate comparisons between this futuristic adventure and the wildly successful “The Hunger Games” collection–although this spinoff series doesn’t come remotely close to catching fire in its storytelling or competing with the mayhem found in District 12.
Based upon New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth’s vastly popular young adult novels, this sequel finds the last remaining humans fighting for survival in Chicago—200 years into the future. Isolated from wastelands outside the city by enclosed walls, all the citizens have been placed into one of 5 groups, or “factions”, based upon testing of aptitude and personality. Problems arise when a smaller populace, identified as Divergents, hold traits associated with all five factions. Their independent thinking and inability to be kept harbored within a specific group, creates a rebellious pushback to a tyrannical leader seeking total control, played by overqualified Academy Award winner Kate Winslet (for 2009’s “The Reader”). Leading the Divergent opposition group of misfits and other bad apples, is none other than Hollywood’s fastest rising action starlet, Shailene Woodley.
Theo James’ character “Four” assists Divergent leader Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley).
Shailene Woodley’s action-packed performance in “Insurgent” reminds me of Tom Cruise’s decisive move from dramatic roles in “Rain Man”, “Born of the Fourth of July” and “A Few Good Men” to action-hero status in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise. Woodley, coming off last year’s emotional and heart-wrenching role as a teen cancer survivor in “The Fault In Our Stars”, once again outshines all others on the big screen. And, by “all others”, I’m alluding to Academy Award winners Winslet (with six nominations), Octavia Spencer (2011’s “The Help”) and 2-time Oscar nominated Naomi Watts…pretty good company that Woodley decimates and overshadows throughout.
Academy Award winner Kate Winslet as the prime evil Jeanine Matthews.
Despite Woodley’s stand-alone, remarkable job as instigator and leader of the faction-less and divergent groups, coupled with fascinating CGI simulator challenges in the movie, “Insurgent” is hampered by a weak script and even thinner plot. At the halfway point in this collection’s theater blitz, let’s hope next year’s “Allegiant: Part 1” and 2017’s “Part 2” rise to the level of this series’ “Hunger Games” inspiration.
“Insurgent” is rated PG-13 with a running time of 1 hour, 59 minutes.
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