It’s no secret that I don’t like Divergent very much. I did the novel version of Divergent as a “Humorous Interpretation” for speech team this year. Essentially, I just made fun of the book and the movie for ten minutes. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the plot of Divergent, the story takes us to a dystopian society where everyone is divided into five different factions based off of five character tropes. Everyone takes a test when they reach an indeterminate age to determine what faction they belong in. However, there are a small percentage of people who are “Divergent”, meaning that they fit into more than one of these factions. Because these “Divergents” don’t fit it, they must be eliminated… for some reason. Basically, all of the characters only have one dimension, and everyone who is multilayered is special. This allows the novel/movie to force the audience to identify with the protagonist, Tris Prior, because she’s the only character who is not a cartoon. This is lazy writing and a problem that is evident in most YA fiction. Personally, I find it insulting to have a book or film tell me that a person is special and unique when they’re actually just bland and normal. However, given my extreme dislike of the series, I made a conscious effort to keep an open mind for Insurgent, the second film in the franchise. Catching Fire was much better than The Hunger Games, so maybe we could strike YA sequel gold twice. Insurgent has a new director, Robert Schwentke, and a new team of writers, so who knows what could happen!
The biggest problem with this film is that nothing happens. After the events of Divergent, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) are on the run. There’s your movie. Tris and Four move to a new place and stay there for about fifteen minutes until Eric (Jai Courtney), Jeanine’s (Kate Winslet) henchman, shows up and starts shooting things. This happens for a long time with no real subplot in the film. Things get tedious almost immediately and there is no sense of control within the script. The events seem to occur randomly, meaning that as an audience member you are not given the opportunity to care about anything that happens.
As mentioned before, none of the characters are written as more than a caricature. None of the actors have much to work off of and they don’t appear to be trying very hard. The performances range from melodramatic (Woodley), to bad (Jonny Weston as Edgar), to stupid (James & Winslet). Miles Teller, reprising his role as Peter, is the only actor who gives an entertaining performance. He doesn’t do anything special other than be deliciously smarmy, but he seems to know what type of movie he’s in and attempts to make the most of the situation.
Near the end of the film, there is a big plot twist. I won’t reveal what it is, but it’s the only significant thing that happens in the entire movie. Initially, I enjoyed this plot twist simply because it was a change of pace, however, after thinking about it, I realized that it was the stupidest decision that the franchise could have made next to telling the audience that the past two movies were all a dream. After doing a little research, I found out that this plot twist was in the book as well, so this one is on you, Veronica Roth.
Visually, Insurgent isn’t very interesting. Divergent was shot in Chicago and really made the post-apocalyptic imagery an important part of the film. Most of Insurgent is shot in Atlanta, and all of the locations seem incredibly vague, like the filmmakers are trying to hide that there is no continuity between the different places that the characters go. This movie doesn’t feel like there was a strong vision behind it; it feels micromanaged by the studio to the point that it has no voice. It’s haphazardly written, shot, and edited.
Insurgent isn’t even fun to make fun of, it’s just a tedious experience to get through. In advertisements, the movie was sold for its “heart-pounding action”, but there’s not enough heart within the film to make you care about any of the average-looking action. At the end of the day, it feels like everyone involved was simply cashing a paycheck instead of working on something that they believed in. 3/10.