REVIEW — “The Divergent Series: Insurgent”
I know I’m not the target demographic when I speak about “The Divergent Series: Insurgent,” but I really hope youths don’t enjoy bad writing, weak characters, poor performances, and awful sequel setup. Despite having impressive visual effects, and decent enough action sequences, it feels far too long, and the bland lead actress couldn’t keep my interest.
The characters/performances are one of the huge setbacks. Despite having such quality actors as Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Ray Stevenson and Octavia Spencer we are forced to suffer through dull, bland, emotionless and weak performances from Shailene Woodley, Theo James (he’s the worst), Miles Teller (you can tell he doesn’t care) and Ansel Elgort. Theo James has never been an impressive actor, and, much like Kristen Stewart, he has found a calling in the young adult world. These roles aren’t particularly challenging in terms of depth, but he still managed to deliver a stale and wooden performance. Shailene, despite being an incredible actress in other works, is not a convincing leading lady in this young adult action franchise. Even though they are playing different, but still similar, characters Shailene doesn’t hold a candle on Jennifer Lawrence (this isn’t fan boy talk either); She is just unable to convincingly express the full range of emotions required of her. Ansel…why are you here? He annoyed me from start to finish, and it wasn’t just his character, but his performance. At least Miles Teller is man enough to admit in interviews that he doesn’t care for these films, and they were just a means to an end (one that got him into an Academy Award nominated film, “Whiplash”). Despite looking like he never really clocked in he still managed to steal more than a few scenes he was in.
The writing/story was just as bad as the performances and characters. We are treated to unexplained technological gizmos (we have it because we have it…what?), clichéd Young Adult plot points, weak character chemistry and dynamics, and glaring plot holes. We are introduced to machines that can instantly, and in an unexplained way, measure which faction people belong to, and what percentage of them is Divergent. Add to this that, basically, this story revolves around a magic box that the bad lady gets, but she needs a Divergent to open it. She hunts Divergents, and pushes them through some tests, but never lets any of them rest and they die. We need, of course, our leading lady to complete the challenge, but the baddie…gives her breaks during the tests? After, I believe, 7 attempts she allows the one person she hates the most to take her time, and have multiple chances at this test, but there’s no explanation as to why she didn’t let anyone else rest. She never needed our leading actress, apparently, as anyone could have passed this test since they all could have been given breaks and second attempts instead of being pushed to death. Throw in some obvious betrayals, and you have another dull story filled with inexplicable character actions, poorly orchestrated plot points, and glaring plot holes.
Again, I understand this is not a film a 27 year old male can enjoy, at least I’m not the intended market, but that doesn’t mean studios should shovel crap into the theaters just because the masses will pay to see it. You’re poorly adapting (unless the source material is this bad too….) fan favorite stories into ill-conceived crap fests filled with poorly constructed plots, weak writing, even weaker characters, and an awful love story that, of course, has to be in here. Despite some pretty cool action scenes, and some really slick visual effects, “The Divergent Series: Insurgent” offers nothing to people that didn’t read the books, except a bad way to waste time. 2/5