IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 119 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Following the assault on Abnegation by Jeanine’s mind-controlled Dauntless soldiers, Eric and his platoon find an artifact, a box of unknown origin containing the symbols of all the factions, that Jeanine believes contains a message from the city’s founders, and the means to end the Divergent problem once and for all. However, only a Divergent can open the box, and she orders that all Divergents be hunted down and captured. Meanwhile Tris, Four, Peter and Caleb are on the run, and have to enter the locales of various factions, the first being the Amity, who aren’t too happy to have fugitives from justice living them….
Divergent wasn’t short of flaws, but as these Young Adult things go it was a half decent piece of entertainment that actually made me not at all annoyed by the fact that its story would continue. Insurgent is an often gripping and surprisingly grim exercise which continues the story begun in the earlier film reasonably enough, though my hopes that it would be a significant advance on its predecessor were soon dashed. There’s a tremendous action movie pace to the first half of the film, with just a few minutes of our protagonists hanging around the hippie-ish Amity faction before we get a good chase and an exciting fight aboard a train, though of course director Robert Schwentke and cinematographer Florian Ballhaus don’t want us to see too much of all this due to the frantic editing and shakycam. Much of the second half takes place inside Tris’ mind where she’s being ‘tested’, but, apart from a rather striking sequence of her trying to rescue her mother from a flying house which is on fire, these scenes are unimaginatively done and mostly involve buildings crumbling, with effects almost as poor as those in Man Of Steel.
Some subplots are almost forgotten about, as if the writers were writing independently from each other, while the film still refuses to properly explore its most intriguing setup – the five factions. Everything is all surface and nothing else, which is not always a bad thing but leaves one unsatisfied when all these good and even complex ideas and themes are there and one is led to expect the movie will offer more. As with the first film, there’s a certain lack of logic with its heroine’s actions sometimes contradicting the fact that she’s supposedly Divergent, and despite Tris being presented as some kind of feminist icon, she’s sometimes pretty stupid and often needs to be rescued by the male characters. Insurgent is full of contradictions, and why do the majority of the faculties seem to consist of mainly young people [and what’s with all the tattoos?]. I haven’t read the book, but I get the impression that much of the story and detail hasn’t been thought through. Still, the film is certainly not boring, the cast mostly do another good job, and it’s admirably downbeat and dark throughout, not really feeling restricted by its ‘PG -13’/’12A’ rating, with the violence and deaths often having quite an impact. A black mark for Joseph Trapanese’s thoroughly bland, ‘Hans Zimmer on auto-pilot’ score though, which does absolutely nothing for the film. Lacking much of the intelligence of the Hunger Games series, this franchise just about gets by by being fast and reasonably fun, and dare I say it I still want to see how it all ends.