The movie starts out with a speech in which the history is narrated and all the terms are laid out. Erudite, Dauntless, Amity, Candor, Abnegation, Divergents… If you spell something with a Capital, it becomes a Thing. And a Thing is a Thing because everyone takes it seriously. But Insurgent’s world is kind of hard to take seriously. Kate Winslet narrates a history that sounds silly and would never happen in real life, but by dressing it up in textbook language it sounds almost believable. But so much disbelief I cannot suspend, and the way this movie takes itself seriously becomes a bit laughable.
A teenage tale about revolution in a dictatorial dystopia, the main actors don’t inspire any revolutionary fire. Shailene Woodley, Theo James and the rest all deliver very wooden performances. They yell, whisper and cry but somehow it looks mechanical. They also stare a lot, call each other’s names a lot, and generally look a bit bored while the camera spins around them. I can’t tell the difference whether they are staring in love, in pain, in hope, or in any other emotion. They’re just staring.
Tris and Tobias just escaped the city that was convulsing in the violence of revolution and now live in the countryside. I would expect them to be upset but they live there quite peacefully with kids running around at some kind of greenhouse retreat of people who don’t want to fight. The only sign that they lived through some bad stuff is some of the dreams that Tris gets, but dreams are a boring and cheap way to write drama. I would have thought that the nightmares themselves weren’t the problem, but the actual revolution going on. Then they get sucked in when their nice retreat is attacked.
In all honesty, the action isn’t bad and the visuals are nice. There are just three things that keep this movie down: wooden acting, uninspired dialogue and the childish premise of the story about factions. Unfortunately, these aren’t little things.
On the face of it, the background story of the Divergent series isn’t much sillier than that of the Hunger Games, but still the Hunger Games world is easier to believe in. I guess the difference lies in how Insurgent tries to take the idea so seriously that there are only 5 or 6 types of personalities, and in every bad piece of dialogue it gets rubbed in your face. It’s supposed to be a source of conflict in the movie but I just can’t take it seriously. Once that fails, the rest of the movie starts failing too like domino blocks falling over. I guess in the end the moral of the story will be that it won’t make sense to divide people in 5 groups of personality but that is hardly a message worth a movie trilogy.
Besides the premise, I don’t like the story itself. I know that the book and movie are Young Adult focused but the movie is so tiringly teenage-centric and I just wonder whether that is necessary. The whole world of Insurgent seems to consist of teenagers, and everyone is dumb and overly emotional. The few adults in the movie are ignorant, evil or untrustworthy. In teenage fashion, tensions are never resolved well, emotional frustration is shown as people turning their back and walking away. Unnecessary fighting breaks out all the time to keep the plot going. They should rename this movie to Dumb Teenagers Fighting. I put it in Capitals so now it is a Thing.