"Woodley and Winslet Anchor This Ship"
No build up necessary here. Anyone coming into this picture knows exactly what they are getting themselves into. This film knows its audience well and does not pretend to be what it isn't. Unlike The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
, which this film will most closely be measured against, there is no real slow burn before we get to all the excitement. Here, things get rolling almost right away.
The film begins with Tris (Shailene Woodley) and company hiding out from Jeanine's (Kate Winslet) forces in the company of the Amity faction led by Johanna (Octavia Spencer). Tris' protection in Amity is cut short though, as Eric (Jai Courtney) and his platoon arrive looking to test everyone in the faction in search of Divergents for Jeanine's plan to retrieve a message from a mysterious box left behind by the city founders over 200 years prior (Get it? Tris Prior? I thought it was funny). Trouble is, only a Divergent can open it. So, Tris and her friends must continue to run and stay out of sight until they find enough scattered Dauntless members in order to mount an attack on Jeanine.
What are some things this film has going for it? Firstly, Ms. Shailene Woodley. As she did in Divergent
, she makes this film just a little better, a little more grounded, and a little more believable. Depth is something she brings in spades. There is great weight and dimensionality to Tris here as the story has deepened from what was already slightly bleak in the original to something even more bleak. Kate Winslet's Jeanine is iron-fisted and compelling. That said, she's no Darth Vader and this is not The Empire Strikes Back
, but Winslet's role here is more expanded than was the case in the first. Nevertheless, she looks to be having a great deal of fun, with both a kind of childlike wonder and a degree of intensity, which is expected in order to make us believe how serious Jeanine is about achieving her goal.
Other treats include Jai Courtney, whose doggedness and physicality is riveting as the enforcer Eric. Miles Teller was stellar as the guy we all like to dislike, Peter. He easily had some of the films sharpest lines, but the lines themselves are one thing. How he delivers them is a completely different animal; he does so fantastically. Daniel Dae Kim as the Candor leader Jack Kang and Ashley Judd, reprising her role as Tris' mother Natalie Prior were nice touches though neither of them were around for very long.
The action here is well executed and exciting, which helps the overall pacing of the film. There was great and unique camera work to capture the action, some of which felt like a theme park ride in the best way possible. It puts the audience right in the action. The musical score led by composer Joseph Trapanese, was a huge step up from the previous installment, which had a prominent pop-song base. Here, we have a darker, heavier score with stronger punctuations echoing the depth of the story. It is definitely more appropriate for this more intense entry of the series.
is a solid follow-up to the original even if it is a bit one-note by comparison. As a whole, there is not much nuance or complexity; it's pretty much non-stop action from start to finish. However, if you happen to be looking for an entertaining action/adventure flick to catch in the near future, you could do a whole lot worse than this. It does star Shailene Woodley after all and that's got to count for something.