Forever young adult
The Divergent series, a.k.a. “Adventures in Hardcore Lethargy,” continues with Insurgent, a film as boring and pointless as its predecessor. This garbage is making The Hunger Games look like the original Star Wars trilogy in comparison.
Director Robert Schwentke chooses a lot of gray tones to go with his dull dialogue and muddled, straining performances to make this one a sleeper in a bad way. Shailene Woodley, an actress who is impressive most of the time, simply doesn’t make for an intriguing action heroine. The material seems beneath her.
After the oh-so-rousing events of the first film, Tris (Woodley) and Four (Theo James) are living in a “faction free” zone, meaning the zone is not run by any of the factions by which everybody in this society is categorized by. The factions are Amity, Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, Candor, Flounder and Douchebag. I would say this mess has the worst Young Adult fiction premise ever, but I’ve seen the Twilight films, so I would be lying my ass off.
While living among the factionless, they have a surprise meeting with Four’s hot mom Evelyn, played by the incomparable Naomi Watts, one of my all-time favorite actresses. Watts is totally wasting her time in this crap, because, well, if Kate Winslet can slum in this pigeon spooge, so can Watts. While Watts makes a fairly brief appearance in this chapter, her character figures to be bigger in future installments. So, consequently, I weep for Watts’s immediate film future.
Tris eventually winds up in the evil grasp of Jeanine (Winslet) again, where she is forced into a simulator that has the film trying to trick us into thinking things are really happening as opposed to just being a simulation. So when Tris is rescued, or kicking Winslet’s ass, or drinking a Diet Coke, it’s all just a hallucination. The movie spends much of its running time trying to dupe you. I assure you, once you plunk down your green for this cat poo, you’ve already been duped.
One particular simulation has Tris trying to save her mommy (Ashley Judd) from a broken, flying building. Here’s a sequence that we are well aware is a dream—a really outlandish and stupid one involving a flying building. To say it lacks tension would be an understatement, not to mention nonsensical since there is no chance for tension in a Divergent series movie anyway.
Wait a minute? Are you noticing the talent I’ve mentioned in the first few paragraphs of this review? Woodley, Winslet, Watts—lots of “W” names—and I haven’t even mentioned the great Miles Teller of Whiplash fame or Ansel Elgort.
Teller and Elgort have both had the privilege of starring with Woodley in much better movies, The Spectacular Now and The Fault in Our Stars, respectively. In their scenes together, I was hoping they’d get in a romantic slap fight over Woodley’s hand in marriage. It would’ve made no sense, but would’ve provided a scene with something resembling a pulse in this picture.
It’s hard to watch a talent like Woodley screech and moan her way through this dialogue. Like Kristen Stewart, a talented actress who sold out for the Young Adult fiction film phenomenon, she’s basically required to embarrass herself. Jennifer Lawrence has managed to make the equally ridiculous Hunger Games series watchable, but those movies also have Woody Harrelson in an awesome Kurt Cobain wig, so she has an unfair advantage.
Taking a cue from the Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games cash cows, the Divergent series will end by splitting the final novel it is based upon, Allegiant, into two films. This means we are only halfway through this cinematic hell ride. We can all have faith that at least two hours in each of the next two years will totally suck balls.