Meh, unfortunately.

I should probably start by saying that I haven’t read the books in the Divergent series, I’ve only seen the first film – which I thought was OK. There has been a whole bunch of YA franchises, or at least attempted franchises, of late and Divergent was somewhere around the middle in terms of quality. Not good like the Hunger Games, not better than expected like The Maze Runner but also not bad like The Mortal Instruments or Twilight. Now each of these franchises has its devoted fans and if you disagree with my opinion, that’s fine. It’s just my opinion and we’re all entitled to one. Personally, I adore Pacific Rim. Many, many people disagree.

As I say, I came away from the first film not hating it, just not enthusiastic. I felt that the world being built was just a little bit thin; five factions to pigeon-hole the whole of human personality seems like not enough and splitting all of human endeavour into five areas seems like nowhere near enough – who exactly is making those bullets they keep shooting at her, where do they get the fuel for the trains or power stations etc. etc. But for the most part, I let that kind of stuff slide as it’s very difficult to take a whole world and fit it into a two-hour film. I assumed that this stuff was covered in more depth in the book and they didn’t have time for it, which is fine if your story is engaging enough like the Hunger Games…

Insurgent Review
Oh look, a MacGuffin! That’s sure to make me care about this film.

So onto Insurgent, the trailer looked pretty decent and it looked like this could build on the reasonable foundations set up in Divergent and carry the story forward. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case – without spoiling the film, the end of Insurgent leaves things pretty much in the same place as Divergent. If they had altered things even slightly, then you could have skipped Insurgent entirely and that is not a good thing, especially given that the planned third film of the series, Allegiant, is going to be split into two parts (that thudding sound you can hear is my head banging on the table).

In Insurgent, things start very shortly after the end of Divergent with the characters in hiding, planning their next move. They are discovered not long after, where they are forced to return to the city, where they do, um, not very much. Certainly nothing I can tell you without revealing the whole plot. An Insurgency is building, sort of, but the main cast aren’t particularly involved.

Insurgent Review
I’ve seen enough 12A’s to know where this isn’t going.

ShaileneWoodley does a decent performance as Tris and in places she’s really quite good but unfortunately, she’s really the only person to get any fleshing out as a character. Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, they’ve all put in decent if not great performances in other films, it’s just they’re given little or nothing to work with here, it’s all just a little bit thin. The action scenes are done pretty well for the most part and the simulation sequences are polished. Perhaps a little too much at times for something that’s supposed to feel real.

Even though I wasn’t a particular fan of Divergent, there was enough there to make me willing to give Insurgent a chance and I feel bad having to be so negative about it. I’ve come away disappointed and all but the hardcore fans of the books probably will too. I suspect the box office return for Insurgent will be lower than Divergent and the prospects for a two-part Allegiant won’t be any better. This isn’t going to stop studios from making them on a budget for an easy return but that won’t make them worth watching.