"You are living proof that the Divergent problem has grown beyond all control."
I only recently saw Divergent in the wake of this very quickly produced sequel. I have to admit that the ending did not make a lot of sense, from what I can gather the heroes incapacitate the evil dictator (something that all teen films now include) and decide to run rather than simply taking the opportunity to kill her, or at least kidnap her, or leave some kind of threat, or hold her ransom. Anything would have been more logical than simply running away to an uncertain future, an ending that is in no way like the first Hunger Games at all. Then it hit me, it ended this way because they needed a sequel as quickly as possible, so they could cash in on the inevitable grieving Hunger games fans as the franchise closes, so could this sequel at least offer that.
In their divided world of factions the two Divergents Tris and Four (is that really a name, okay then) are on the run and fighting for survival against the ruthless government and leader (Kate Winslet) that is hot on their trail (another reason why it would have made sense to kill her when they had the chance).
To be honest, it would be easy to say that the production speed has resulted in a lazy film, an aspect that is the worst crime imaginable for my cinema tastes. But that would not be true because there is an interesting and inventive way in which the film is made and acted. I have to say it, the two leads are good in their roles, particularly Shailene Woodley who generates remorse and regret for her actions in a similar way to Jenifer Lawrence in Catching Fire. I’m not saying she’s better than Lawrence but there’s definitely an element of imitation that is pretty good in its own right. Octavia Spencer and Naomi Watts are also credible, there’s no phoning it in or half-arsed performances here.
As far as sequels go, in my opinion, it should build on the original in every way for scope and intensity as well as focussing on the depth of its characters to a greater extent and add another crucial element to the story. The series does pack more action into this instalment than the first one as well as demonstrating some frankly excellent direction on them. The sweeping camera shots, use of slow motion and fast, sharp angles all attribute to the intensity.
The character study is also interesting. We have to witness them come to terms with decisions made in the first film and coping with the long term consequences. The depth and complexity, as I said earlier, is all conveyed with precise accuracy by Woodley and they manage to avoid sinking into a constant series of complaints, as Katniss has been accused of. The downside to this of course is that every other character seems to be pushed aside.
The love relationship is what you would call lacklustre though. This relationship involves each party withholding information from one another, constantly reprimanding each other for letting emotions interfere and spend most of their time running rather than actually talking to each other and bonding, yet still somehow falling head over heels for each other by the end.
Kate Winslet is decent, but she just doesn’t feel necessary. I feel as if her presence would be like the Emperor being present for all of Empire Strikes Back rather than just that one conversation. This would be fine if they added some depth to her character, but there’s nothing, just a villain twiddling her thumbs and getting no exposition at all.
The main problem from Insurgent seems to stem from the fact that at the end of the day, when you think about it, it makes no sense at all. The plot seems overly elaborate and reveals itself in a rather uneven manner.
The story of Insurgent is pulled in so many directions that it is simply ripped apart, held together only by the strand that is Woodley’s performance and some impressive directing.