This highly-anticipated sequel to last year’s “Divergent” is set in a dystopian futuristic Chicago, where society is rigidly divided into five factions, according to skill and aptitude: Amity (peaceful), Abnegation (selfless), Candor (honest), Dauntless (brave) and Erudite (intelligent) – with the dispossessed Outsiders, known as Factionless. They’re supervised by megalomaniacal Jeanine (Kate Winslet), who discovered a mysterious, five-sided box containing information from the founders of the new civilization. She’s sure it’s the answer to what she perceives as the Divergent dilemma. Divergents are considered dangerous because they have attributes of multiple factions. Problem is: she needs a Divergent to open it. Read on…
Meanwhile, the reluctant Divergent heroine, Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley), is on the run with other rebels. Having lost her parents (Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn) in a recent battle, she’s haunted by nightmares, filled with guilt and grief.
Along with a new, short haircut, Tris has a seemingly meek brother. Caleb (Ansel Elgort), whose allegiances are shifting; Candor pal Christina (Zoe Kravitz); conniving frenemy Peter (Miles Teller); and hunky protector, known as Four (Theo James), whose murky past is revealed as part of the plot.
Adapting Veronica Roth’s derivative YA trilogy, three screenwriters (Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman and Mark Bomback), along with director Robert Schwentke (“The Time Traveler’s Wife,” “R.E.D.”), have crafted a meandering, action-packed sci-fi saga – that’s perhaps too kinetic. SIMs (hallucinatory simulations) and breathless chase scenes abound, including a memorable one involving train-hopping.
Formidable Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer make cameo appearances, perhaps foreshadowing bigger roles in the third and fourth movies that split the concluding novel, “Allegiant” into two parts.
And there are new additions: British model-turned-actress Suki Waterhouse, Rosa Salazar, Emjay Anthony, Jonny Weston and Keiynan Lonsdale. And a techno soundtrack.
But it’s Shailene Woodley (“The Spectacular Now,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” “The Descendants”) whose angst-riddled close-ups propel the obvious plot, along with intense stunt work and visual effects. Plus there’s that huge, electric fence that surrounds the entire city.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Insurgent” is a fast-paced 5 – a “Hunger Games” wannabe.