If graphic prowess was the only marker of film-making genius, then Insurgent would be a visual masterpiece. Sadly, it isn’t one, which should remind us that there are many other things that make a movie. That said, it is easy to forget the entire plot while marvelling at the sheer CGI fest spanning a little under two hours, leaving you wondering about the entire storyline. Yes, the graphics at display are that good.
A good sequel saves you the trouble of watching its prequel prior to the screening, or having to read its plot on Wikipedia mid-film. Insurgent does none of that, jumping smack right in the heat of things from the get go. What it does though, is to hinge upon the success of the first of its series, Divergent.
To the rescue comes Kate Winslet as Jeanine Matthews, the taciturn leader of the Erudite faction who hunts down stand-out divergents Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James). Winslet ever so shines as her authoritarian character Jeanine, a feat made all the more remarkable considering the Divergent series marks her first ever role as a villain.
Seemingly in accordance with Tris’ boyish hairdo, Jeanine has her hair up in prim and proper fashion. Which does absolutely nothing to downplay Madam Erudite’s ice-cold demeanour; we get this feeling Winslet should accept more on-screen roles as villains.
When I stopped to catch my breath from the CGI beatdown, I couldn’t help but to peg Insurgent as the lovechild of Cloud Atlas and The Hunger Games. I was reminded of the time I had to lift my jaw off the floor from all the special effects in a movie, and I pair that with that other film with cardiovascularly fit adults clad in pseudo leather fight suits against a dystopian future backdrop.
Woodley reprises her Hazel Grace (The Fault in Our Stars) routine as the troubled-yet-unwavering Tris Prior, whose dark past unravels in front of the Candor faction, courtesy of a truth serum. This is where Insurgent matches its predecessor; Woodley revels in her darker portrayal of Tris. She manages to convey vulnerability and determination in equal measures, all at the same time countering the film’s dystopian theme with vibrancy.
Considering how much of a buzz Divergent made in 2013, Insurgent should not be a considered step up in the series, as far as storytelling is concerned. Despite all that the film lacks, Insurgent makes a fitting springboard for the series’ third instalment – Allegiant.
Insurgent opens in theatres 19 March 2015.
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Running time: 119 minutes