In cinemas March 19th in the UK and March 20th in the USA!
After the events of the first installment of the popular young adult franchise, Divergent, Tris (Shailene Woodley) is still reeling from the loss of family and friends and blaming herself. In hiding along with her brother, Caleb (Ansel Elgort), the mysterious Four (Theo James) and Peter (Miles Teller), the rebel group are biding their time and trying to develop a new plan to overthrow the suffocating, murderous regime run by the tyrannical Jeanine (Kate Winslet).
Following the success of the first film, this should be a sequel that hits the ground running. Unfortunately, it appears to have already lost its energy and has descended into a lacklustre exercise in moving the story forward.
Insurgent boasts an impressive cast but they struggle to breathe life and passion into a rather clunky and clichéd script. A prime example of this occurs near the beginning of the film when a troubled Tris manifests her pain by hacking all of her hair off with a pair of kitchen scissors. This is a plot device that has grated on me for a long time for a couple of reasons. Not only is it completely overused, apparently every teenage girl with long hair always cuts it all off when she’s having a bad day (don’t you remember doing that?), but it also seems to be based on a slightly antiquated idea of women. If a woman wants to shed her pain and emotion (inherently girly things) and find strength to carry on, she must remove her feminine tendencies and make herself more like a man. Have we not moved past this by now? Of course, when this device is used, it is made even more grating by the frankly magical hairdressing skills of the girl in question who, despite cutting her own hair using a tiny mirror and a pair of blunt, rusty scissors, still manages to end up with the world’s most beautiful, stylish pixie cut.
This is my major gripe with this film. There appears to be a prevalent fear of moving too far from the status quo. They don’t want to push the ideas too far or unleash the actors’ full potential and as a result, it falls short of really pulling the audience into this dystopian world.
There are a few saving graces. Miles Teller as the snarky, morally wavering Peter, is brilliant. He seems to be the only character who actually addresses the sometimes absurd situations they are put in and brings a grounded, relatable quality that is much needed in this film. Despite not always agreeing with his choices, you can see why he makes them, something that is severely lacking in some of the rest of the characters. Unfortunately, he just does not appear enough and you find yourself waiting for the moment that he walks back on screen. Many of the action sequences are strong and filled with just the right amount of tension to draw you in and hold your breath. Again, there are just not enough to keep you watching.
Ultimately, I wonder how this franchise has managed to draw in such great acting talent. Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer, to name a few, have all signed up, only to be left playing undeveloped characters who, again, do not reach their full potential. I can only assume that the next installment is a masterpiece with this film being simply a stop-gap to move the story through onto its true climax.
Review by Melanie Crossey.
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