The Divergent Series: Insurgent (2 stars)

The Divergent Series: Insurgent

Underwhelming adaptation of the second in Veronica Roth's YA trilogy

Those who found Divergent one young adult dystopia too far will find little in Robert Schwentke's sequel to lessen bewilderment. The walled, post-apocalyptic version of Chicago where society is regimented into five factions is now at war, with the Big Brother-like dictator Jeanine (Kate Winslet) blaming rebellious Divergent deviants for all the troubles and hunting them down. Thus the emphasis is on action over romance, in a distinctly snog-lite entry.

There is a lot of dashing hither and thither in what plays very much like franchise filler building up to Allegiant: Parts 1 and 2. Headed up by Shailene Woodley’s heroic Tris Prior and her protector/lover Four (Theo James – the pair are known affectionately by fans as 'Sheo'), remnants of the Dauntless faction and survivors of the slaughtered Abnegation tribe scamper to hippy commune Amity for sanctuary. They receive a less than warm welcome from leader Johanna (Octavia Spencer), leap trains for somewhere else, get shanghaied to the underground lair of the Factionless (potential allies led by Four’s estranged mother Evelyn, who turns out to be Naomi Watts), race to a chilly reception at logical, bluntly honest (but best dressed) faction Candor and, inevitably, fall into the clutches of Erudite tyrant Jeanine.

The chief narrative preoccupation is Tris’s grief and guilt over previous events, and Woodley does very well with what she’s given on her odyssey to find herself and free her peeps. But as she undergoes one trial after another the simulations to which she is subjected — and it’s frequently a puzzler whether what’s happening is real, a ‘sim’, or a nightmare — become monotonous stunt spectacles in which fiery, splintering CGI environments feature repetitively. You'll lose count of how many imminent death situations arise, only for someone or other to burst onto the scene and rescue whoever. Most frustrating is how underwritten devious smart aleck Peter (Miles Teller) and Tris’s traitorous brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) are, along with all the other sidekicks and frenemies. But if the squealing teens thronging the world premiere in London are anything to go by, the 'Sheo' show is evidently enough to keep fans happy.

General release from Fri 20 Mar.

Divergent Series: Insurgent | Trailer


  • 2 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 1h 59min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Robert Schwentke
  • Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller

Tris (Woodley), Four (James) and the remnants of the Dauntless race tirelessly hither and thither in part 2 of the Divergent series. Woodley does very well with what she's given, but the other parts are underwritten and it all feels like a build-up to the extended finale of this bewildering and hardly essential franchise.