In today’s world, and I’m talking about this current decade, it doesn’t seem to be difficult for an author to make a few bucks off a dystopian story. Get an idea, write it down, read The Hunger Games, continue your story, reread The Hunger Games, copy some ideas from it, reread The Hunger Games again, then go see The Hunger Games and take a few more notes. Then finalize your own version of it, send it to a publisher, and if it reads well, you have a winner. And if you have a winner, you had better believe that you have a greenlit motion picture.
Before you think I’m being too harsh and critical on The Divergent Series: Insurgent (yes, that is the official title and it still baffles me that they went with it), let me say that I did read the first book in the series and I was quite fond of it. It was an interesting idea in the spirit of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling franchise and it had its own voice. The movie, on the other hand, while not bad, was a sluggish mess. Insurgent follows suit.
The story, which picks up days after the events of Divergent, follows Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), a Divergent on the run in a futuristic world divided into factions. She’s with Four (Theo James), her Dauntless boyfriend of sorts, and together they set out to discover what’s going on in the shadows of the factions and the leaders of them.
Back for more clipboard holding is Kate Winslet, completely and totally miscast in a role that requires nothing more than, well, clipboard holding. She’s awful in the movie, just as she was in the first one, and it’s a shame that an actress of her quality is lowered to a movie such as this. On the opposite end of that argument is Naomi Watts, unrecognizable and terrific in her mysterious role that I won’t spoil for those that haven’t read the book. Shailene Woodley, a strong actress that hasn’t failed to impress yet, is spectacular once again as Tris, bringing a seriously affecting sense of emotion to her dramatic scenes that rivals Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games.
But The Divergent Series isn’t The Hunger Games. The final few minutes of this second entry hints at interesting things to come, but I’m not interested enough to want to sit through Part 1 and Part 2 of a single book adaptation. Apart from Woodley and Watts, no actor brings anything to the table that can save it from its sluggishness. Robert Schwentke does a good job behind the camera, staging some impressive action sequences (specifically a chase through the woods early on in the film), but that isn’t enough to make the movie recommendable. If you liked the books, then I’m sure you’ll like the movie, but for the rest of us, it’s just another dystopian YA adaptation that gives us nothing more than we have come to expect.