IN THEATERS – “Insurgent”

indexInsurgent (2015; Dir.: Robert Schwentke)

GRADE: C

By Daniel Barnes

In this weak-kneed sequel to last year’s surprisingly enjoyable Divergent, Shailene Woodley returns as Tris, a fugitive in a post-apocalyptic world of heavily regulated societal factions.  Tris belongs to the thrill-seeking Dauntless faction, but she’s secretly a “Divergent”, a Neo-like chosen one with elements of all five factions, which makes her a threat to the fascist new world order fronted by a slumming Kate Winslet.  Divergent set out a buffet line of one-dimensional characters and pilfered sci-fi tropes, but most reasonable objections were lost in an action-packed whirlwind of world-building gobbledygook; it moved too fast for the stupidity of the premise to settle. Insurgent, meanwhile, spends the first twenty minutes mooning about a hippie commune while the characters get makeovers and play on the swings, and most of the first two acts are spent desperately postponing the obvious conclusion.  This is pure space-filling product, almost as though the series skipped straight from A New Hope to Mockingjay, Part 1; it probably doesn’t help that competent filmmaker Neil Burger was replaced for the sequel by R.I.P.D. auteur Robert Schwentke.  Woodley still makes for a emotionally resonant action hero, looking downright adorable in a post-apocalyptic pixie cut, and the pace picks up in the final stretch, but it’s too little too late to care.