As The Hunger Games continues to soar on high with excitement already brewing amongst its fandom for the hotly anticipated Mockingjay – Part 2 this November, its closest rival, the Divergent series – based on Veronica Roth’s best-selling trilogy of young adult novels – can only look on through jealous eyes. Its second instalment, Insurgent, directed by Flightplan’s Robert Schwentke who has taken over the hot seat from Divergent’s Neil Berger, looks to improve on a tame first outing as the faction-centric future dystopia heads towards war.
The faction system lies in chaos as Erudite leader and full on bitch, Jeanine (Kate Winslet), continues to try and eliminate those she deems as society’s ultimate threat: the divergent. The lovey-dovey pairing of Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) – the leaders of the divergent pack – look to gather support in order to topple their corrupt government, receiving backing from the unlikeliest of sources in Four’s estranged mother, Evelyn (Naomi Watts).
Insurgent, unfortunately, follows in the same vein as its predecessor, leaving us simultaneously bored to tears while thanking our lucky stars for Katniss Everdeen, Peeta and company. Anti-climatic would be a dystopian-sized understatement as it dramatically fails to capitalise on its revolution-based premise. Their society is in chaos, yet it all feels so undercooked. As the film falls into the world of underwhelming dream-like sequences and short-lived fistycuffs that ever-so occasionally border on the mildly entertaining, revolution plans seem to take a backseat to the goings on of a super-mysterious, light-up box as the films attention switches carelessly between its two biggest talking points which leaves us with more unanswered questions than the frustrating Divergent did. Its flimsy plot receives a boost from its talented lead, as Woodley – impressive once again – makes the most of uninspiring surroundings as the butt-kicking Trish, while Whiplash star Miles Teller shines as the weasel-like Peter.
It must be difficult to live in The Hunger Games’ shadow, but the charmless Divergent series doesn’t make it easy on itself. Wholly unlovable and with nothing but a strong female lead to make it stand-out amongst its more enjoyable rivals (and that includes the straight-talking The Maze Runner), this young adult story just can’t seem to find its feet between rip-snorting action flick and queasy teen love affair. Falling even below the standards set by its unremarkable original, Insurgent – in a world chocker block full of teen-aimed flicks – leaves us with one burning thought: who cares?!?
You can read the Film Trance review for Divergent here.