From Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” saga to Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” trilogy, there is no shortage of film adaptations based on teenage fiction. Despite being a little late to the party, “Divergent”, which is based on the books by Veronica Roth, proved to be one of the unlikely box office hits of 2014. A year on, the series continues with its second outing “Insurgent”.
In the wake of the uprising, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) find themselves on the run as Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) launches a search for Divergent. All the while, Tris and Four are attempting to figure out what Abnegation sacrificed their lives to protect and why the Erudite leaders will go to great lengths to stop them.
Director Robert Schwentke (who takes over the reins from Neil Burger) wastes no time in advancing the story, which follows directly on from the predecessor without any character or storyline establishment. While returning viewers will be grateful for the instant progression, newcomers without any prior knowledge of the series will struggle to grasp the plot.
Even without the context, Insurgent is still a highly entertaining film, propelled by its well choreographed action sequences and dazzling special effects. There’s certainly no shortage of edge-of-your-seat moments, although it’s during the film’s simulation scenes where it really comes to life.
The simulations (tests which are used to determine which faction the subject belongs to) have been expertly handled by Schwentke and cinematographer Florian Ballhaus, with the CGI and abstract imagery creating some extraordinary visuals. Whereas the 3D effects provide a subtle depth to such scenes, they serve very little purpose elsewhere.
Shailene Woodley seems a lot more comfortable in the lead role in comparison to Divergent. Her portrayal of a young girl who is both vulnerable and tough is highly convincing and has great chemistry with her co-star and eye candy Theo James. Likewise, Kate Winslet and Naomi Watts (Evelyn) also deliver outstanding performances, despite their lack of screen time.