The Divergent Series: Insurgent is the second film of the Divergent series, as the title subtly put it. We follow Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) after the attack on her home district and as their war on President (?) Jeannie (Kate Winslet).
I liked Divergent. I actually did. It's a bit boring and slow paced, but I thought the world building and the establishing of characters really worked. I tried to get past the built in problems of every YA novel adaptation just copying The Hunger Games (I didn't) and just have a good time with it. I don't feel motivated to watch the first film again but I thought it was a pretty entertaining watch, but unfortunately to say, this movie made me uninterested with the entire series.
Shailene Woodley still stands strong with her portrayal of Tris. She's definitely the bright spot of this movie. She's a great actress, and you can really see that she's trying as hard as she can to make this character work, and for the most part, she does. I found the character work with Tris here to be functional. That's the only word to describe it. Functional. Her character arc in the film is generic for a dystopian-future, young adult heroine. She actually turns into the B-level Katniss Everdeen here. However, her character does choppily get some development, and it was the only thing in the movie I was even remotely interested in.
While the first film was an prolonged training montage, this film really has a lot going on, but the stakes aren't felt at all. I mentioned earlier that these types of films can't have a stiff villain, because I imagine this film was aiming to be the "stakes are high and tensions are rising between districts, etc. etc." kind of film, but you can't have that without the portrayal of a menacing and ruthless antagonist. Instead, you'll just have an unengaging and boring narrative.
The film is brought down by a plethora of uninteresting characters and story arcs. Now, I stated that I thought that Divergent did a good job at setting up the world and characters, so naturally, I was looking forward to seeing those characters progress in the sequel. However, the film didn't build off the foundation layed by the first film. They don't really take time to flesh anything out in this sequel. The film gives shallow backstories for characters that could work well as concepts, but they don't leave any room for these things to develop. Instead, there's pretty much two hours of convoluted plot points that don't really come together organically.
Even with the well-done action scenes and worldbuilding, Insurgent is too convoluted and shallow to function as a second installment of a series. All of the good Shailene Woodley has done for this film is drowned out by the amount of terrible acting and characters. Fans of the book will probably be entertained by this, but others are recommended to just watch The Hunger Games or The Maze Runner, two other series that this series is practically going out of its way to copy.