Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 


SYNOPSIS: Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) are on the run from Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the power-hungry leader of the Erudite faction, when they are exposed as Divergents. Hoping to find allies among the factions Amity, Candor, Abnegation and Dauntless (as well as the impoverished Factionless), Tris tries to uncover the secret her parents sacrificed their lives to protect. In a bid to discover the truth, Tris faces her darkest fears.

Review by Louise Keller:
Kate Winslet as the villainous, power-hungry, ice-cool blonde is the best thing in this overlong sequel in which spectacular special effects dominate and whose narrative is too cluttered to involve us beyond the superficial. Adapted from Veronica Roth's novel, it's all angst and action, and through it all, we have little empathy for Shailene Woodley's protagonist Tris, despite her excellent and physically demanding performance. Robert Schwenktke takes over from Divergent director Neil Burger; he delivers non-stop running, chasing, shooting, punching, all orchestrated to ensure the music cues alert us to high-tension moments.

The action begins immediately after the 2014 film ends, offering a brief recap to remind the audience how the different factions comprise people divided by their personality type. The plot is pretty thin - Tris (with newly cropped hair) and Four (Theo James) are on the run from Jeanine (Winslet) and the various factions are reticent to protect them. The truth serum needle-in-neck jab at the Candor faction brings tense moments as secrets are revealed (Daniel Dae Kim as their leader wins the best dressed award), but the film's highlight sequences are those in which Jeanine forces Tris to hook up to suction tubes that connect her to all the factions, testing her 100% Divergent status. All this in order to discover the secret of the locked ornate box that holds the key to the factions and the world in which they live. Reality and fantasy sit precariously side by side and the sequence in which Tris tries to rescue her mother (Ashley Judd) from a burning house that assumes a life of its own, flying into the air, rocking, tossing and freefalling, is indeed thrilling.

Four is hardly an interesting character - his devotion to Tris is his only redeeming feature, and the plot line involving Naomi Watts as his mother (looking fabulous as a brunette) is a bit of a non-event. Miles Teller however, lights up the screen in his every scene - he has oodles of presence and the fact that we never know where his loyalties lie brings tangible edginess. Jai Courtney is also an asset as the relentless Dauntless leader.

Dramatically, the best scenes are those in which Winslet and Woodley come face to face; the glass wall that divides them is effective. In terms of completeness, the first film had more to offer - let's hope the next in the series finds the original magic.

Email this article

Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

(US, 2015)

CAST: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Theo James, Jai Courtney, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, Maggie Q, Ashley Judd

PRODUCER: Lucy Fosher, Pouya Shahbazian, Douglas Wick

DIRECTOR: Robert Schwentke

SCRIPT: Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, Mark Bomback (novel by Veronica Roth)


EDITOR: Stuart Levy, Nancy Richardson

MUSIC: Joseph Trapanese


RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes



Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020