Warrior woman loses the battle
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts and Miles Teller. Directed by Robert Schwentke. Written by Akiva Goldsman and Brian Duffield. Action, sci-fi. 1h 59min. M for violence. Now showing at Reading and Event cinemas.
With so few female- led action films around, and having been pleasantly surprised by the first film in the series, I looked forward to Insurgent, part 2 of the Divergent trilogy.
Sadly – because it’s always sad when potential is squandered – this sophomore effort is more slump than pump, and does not match the first.
The story picks up with Tris ( Woodley), her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), lover Four (Theo James), and spiky Peter (Miles Teller) hiding out in Amity, the section of their factioned off society where peace, love and harmony reigns.
Four, tired of the battle and hiding some embarrassing secrets, is happy to lie low.
But Tris is itching to strike back at the brainy Erudite faction and its power- mad leader, Jeanine (Kate Winslet), whom she blames for the death of her mother, and whom she is determined to kill at any cost.
Always close to the boil, Tris’s barely contained temper puts her at odds with gentle- natured Amity, and soon the four are forced to leave.
But not before Jeanine attacks Amity in her hunt for Divergents, social outliers she despises, but who can open a box left by the Founders that contains a secret message.
Peter, ever the brat, dobs in Tris and her boys rather than go on the run with them, and the trio have to bust out of Amity.
Along the way they’re attacked by the Factionless, a wild band of misfits and taken to their leader, Evelyn (Naomi Watts).
The trio forge a tentative, if volatile, alliance with her to bring down Jeanine and reveal the ancient secret that will decide the future of all the factions.
Devoid of all subtlety, Insurgent often feels like a story told by teenagers about why everyone over 25 is just plain wrong.
That naivete serves to make the moments of moral dubiousness in the film all the more startling.
There’s no shying away from viciousness, violence and straightup murdering of folks here. And it’s often done with no clear purpose.
The worst aspect of Insurgent, however, is that it hinges on a mythical, mystical, messagebearing chotchka, left behind by some mythical, mystical Founders.
I’m sure this idea plays better in the original books, but in cin- ema if you’re resorting to plot devices that are actually, you know, devices, you’re really scraping the bottom of the ideas barrel.
It’s a pity, because Insurgent’s post-apocalyptic Chicago is stunning and its cast is strong.
Not even sturdy performances from the reliable Woodley, or Oscar-tinted Teller, Winslet and Watts, clearly enjoying her role as the prickly pirate queen, can bring the world to life or salvage this muddled, awkward film.
Bomb: Shailene Woodley is the underground warrior Tris in the disappointing Insurgent, based on the young adult novels by Veronica Roth.