Theo James is kind of perfect. I hate to gush, but he’s a beautiful man.
He’s lovely, and from what I’ve read, he’s more than just a pretty face. He can sing, dance and philosophize with the best of them.
Unfortunately, that beautiful man still wasn’t enough to make “Insurgent” more than just barely interesting.
Shailene Woodley, who I firmly believe is a talent we will be seeing for years to come, also couldn’t combine her skills with his to activate any Wonder Twin powers to save this one.
Picking up where “Divergent” leaves off, Tris (Woodley) and Four (James) are hiding out after stopping a dastardly plan to kill innocents in the first film. The evil Jeanine (Kate Winslet) has convinced the gullible citizens of this dystopian world that Tris, Four and their friends were behind all the mean and nasty capers.
You see, this world is very neat and orderly. Its citizens are divided into factions, based on extreme personality traits, e.g. kindness, honesty, guts and the like. Generally, one of those traits is the predominant one. However, there are individuals capable of all of the above who are known as “divergents.” They are dangerous to an orderly system and must be destroyed — I’m never completely certain why, but it’s the premise. Go with it.
Tris is one of these divergents. She grew up in one faction but chose another. The first film offers the story of her development and evolution. It has training, passion — both physical and mental, heartbreak and more. “Divergent” offered something entertaining clear across the board, in my opinion.
Enter “Insurgent.” Tris is no longer a character at war with who she’s becoming. She’s a young woman with a chip on her shoulder and hate in her heart. Granted, she has some cause to be after certain events of the first movie.
But that’s part of the problem. In the first movie, Tris is a character developing. She’s a young woman who has grown up in a gentle atmosphere, one where being selfless is the most important thing in the world. As the film progresses, she comes into her own. She learns to defend herself. She finds her voice. She finds sweet, sweet lovin’ with Theo James’ character. The story progresses rapidly and keep you interested.
In this second one, the government says that all divergents must be eliminated and work toward that goal. However, I felt a bit like I was waiting for things to actually happen. Just shy of two hours, that’s a lot of waiting.
While the story seemed to be going nowhere slowly, I can’t say the cast wasn’t giving it their all. Woodley again proves to be one the best criers. Ever. She has mastered the single tear. She is the controller of the full-on sob. The tears seem to come so incredibly easy for this young actress that I want to cry with her, just out of respect and solidarity.
Then there’s Winslet. I felt like she was underused in the trilogy’s first film. She’s such an amazing actress, and I’ve loved her since we first met years ago — I think it was “Titanic.” There is a simple beauty in the character of Jeanine. She’s evil. She’s awful, to be perfectly frank. But she truly believes she’s doing things for the good of the people.
It’s a big theme, and one that Tris backs up wholeheartedly: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one. (RIP Leonard Nimoy, as I use Spock’s immortal words for a franchise that doesn’t deserve them.)
Winslet plays this character so perfectly you almost want to root for her. Almost. Hopefully, you’ll never quite cheer on her murderous antics, but you’ll think about it. Jeanine believes 100 percent in what she’s doing, and while it’s vile, Winslet plays it with such grace. You might start to drink the Kool-Aid, too. Jeanine, although filled with such venom, is a subtle character and Winslet plays it just so.
Ashley Judd and Ansel Elgort return as Tris’ mother, Natalie, and brother, Caleb. The latter is always going to be weird for me, considering Woodley and Elgort were star-crossed lovers in another popular young adult film adaptation, “The Fault in Our Stars.” After seeing Elgort in both, I’m questioning if he basically plays every role exactly the same. Don’t get me wrong, I think the 6’4” actor is adorable in a lanky, geeky kind of way. But, Caleb and Augustus Waters are strikingly similar, when they really shouldn’t be. Still relatively new to acting, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, though. Plus, he breaks my heart as Augustus every single time I watch the movie, so I give him extra leeway. Call me sentimental.
Cutting to the main point here: “Insurgent” is not a bad movie. I realize I don’t paint the best picture of it, but it’s really not awful. It’s just slow, I feel that we possibly cover the same ground multiple times, Without having read the books, I have no clue what’s coming next. This very well could be the setup to a conclusion that is crazy. Michael “Boom Boom” Bay kind of crazy, where we have hourlong fights and explosions and more. It’s possible.
To be fair, “Insurgent” does further the story. Some truly important things happen. It just feels like it takes them a long time to actually happen.
It’s a step down from the previous film, and two more films are coming. Will I see them both? Probably. I’m a completist, so I want to see this storyline to its conclusion.
Do I recommend that others embark upon the same journey? Probably not. I’m not that mean.