Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Insurgent is a Muddled Mess

Plus, The Gunman misses the mark, and iZombie and Community are Certified Fresh.

by | March 19, 2015 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a rebellious teen (Insurgent, starring Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet) and a repentant assassin (The Gunman, starring Sean Penn and Javier Bardem). What do the critics have to say?



Shailene Woodley is well on her way to becoming one of Hollywood’s brightest stars. However, critics say there’s only so much she can do to save Insurgent, a middling middle chapter with frenetic action sequences but little narrative cohesion or character development. This time out, Tris (Woodley) and her fellow Divergents are on the run from evil overlord Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), who wants to exterminate the rebels and take control of futuristic Chicago’s various factions. The pundits say Insurgent is a definite step back for the franchise, as its excessive violence and confusing story overwhelm a terrific cast. (Watch our video interview with Woodley and co-stars Theo James, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, and Octavia Spencer, and click through our gallery of young adult novels that have been adapted to film.)

The Gunman


The veteran actor-shooting-people action subgenre is all the rage these days, and The Gunman has two things to set it apart from the pack: geopolitics and Sean Penn. Unfortunately, critics say it’s pretty generic otherwise, with a predictable plot and a shortage of energy. Years after carrying out a hit in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jim Terrier (Penn) is working for a humanitarian organization when he discovers he’s the target of a shadowy organization — and that his ex has fallen into its clutches. The pundits say The Gunman benefits greatly from its scenic locations, but otherwise, this is a so-so thriller that doesn’t live up to its lofty ambitions. (Check out Penn’s best-reviewed films here.)

What’s On TV:

Despite cast and broadcast changes, Community (Certified Fresh at 91 percent) manages to remain at the top of its quirky class.

An amusing variation on the zombie trend, iZombie (Certified Fresh at 90 percent) is refreshingly different, if perhaps too youth-oriented to resonate with adult audiences.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Metalhead, a dramedy about a girl who immerses herself in heavy metal as a way of dealing with the death of her older brother, is at 100 percent.
  • Spring, starring Lou Taylor Pucci in a horror film about an American backpacker who strikes up a relationship with an Italian woman who’s harboring a shocking secret, is at 95 percent.
  • Amour Fou, a drama about writer Heinrich von Kleist and his attempt to get a society woman to join him in a suicide pact, is at 94 percent.
  • Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, starring Rinko Kikuchi in a drama about a woman who leaves behind her life in Japan to search for the buried cash in Fargo, is Certified Fresh at 89 percent.
  • Backcountry, a thriller about a couple that gets lost while hiking in the remote Canadian wilderness, is at 83 percent.
  • Jauja, starring Viggo Mortensen in a period drama about a Danish engineer who goes searching for his daughter after she runs off with a soldier, is at 78 percent.
  • She’s Lost Control, a drama about a sex surrogate whose life is thrown into disarray when she gets too close to one of her clients, is at 75 percent.
  • Zombeavers, a horror comedy about three friends vacationing at remote cabin who are menaced by the title creatures, is at 60 percent.
  • Danny Collins, starring Al Pacino and Christopher Plummer in a dramedy about a veteran rocker who decides to change his ways after discovering a long-lost letter from a music legend, is at 61 percent.
  • Tracers, starring Taylor Lautner in an action flick about a crew of thieves who use their parkour skills for a series of daring heists, is at 14 percent.
  • Growing Up and Other Lies, starring Adam Brody and Amber Tamblyn in a comedy about a group of millennials who walk across Manhattan while discussing the state of their lives, is at 14 percent.
  • David O. Russell‘s Accidental Love, starring Jessica Biel and Jake Gyllenhaal in a romantic comedy about a woman whose behavior changes when she gets a nail lodged in her skull, is at zero percent.
  • The Walking Deceased, a spoof of zombie apocalypse movies, is at zero percent.

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