Following the huge success of The Hunger Games, the movie industry is lapping up YA stories set in dystopian universes.
Shailene Woodley carries the second movie in this series through – but the film inevitably suffers from mid-series flab. If you haven’t seen its predecessor, Divergent, or read the books, the film will make little sense.
Fans will know that Woodley’s Tris Prior is a conflicted teen living in a dystopian Chicago. Society has been divided into five different factions: Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (truthful), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (brave).
Tris has been identified as a Divergent – a mix of all factions – which puts her on the radar of some very dangerous people. These include Janine (Winslet) – the leader of Erudite with a lust for even greater power.
It has forced Tris and her love, Four (James), to go on the run, with Janine’s sizeable and powerful army in hot pursuit.
The hunt becomes more focused when the ruthless Janine realises that only a Divergent can help her unlock a secret which will reveal huge truths about why the divided system was established by their predecessors.
This movie is less bogged down by exposition than the first film in the series, which seemed to spend half of its running time explaining its convoluted set-up.
The directors and writers, too, have at least endeavoured to deliver a stand-alone movie rather than a mere precursor to the finale, Allegiant. Still, the film flounders with the same poor pacing and overburdened storytelling that made the first film clunky.
But Woodley and James make an endearing onscreen couple, Winslet makes the most of extra screen time as the icy villain of the tale, and there are enough action and chase sequences to build up the tension nicely for the two-part finale.
THE VERDICT: Insurgent’s no sci-fi classic, but there’s enough going on here to please fans of the novels (3/5).