The adventures of reluctant heroine Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) continue in The Divergent Series: Insurgent, a film that seems to rehash a lot of the plot points from the prior film, Divergent, but with daunting task of keeping audiences interested enough to get to next year’s (and the year after that’s) grand finale Allegiant: Part 1 and 2. Director Robert Schwentke (Red) takes over the franchise this time around which sees Tris facing off, once again, against Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the films antagonist and resident psychopath politician with goals of Divergent extinction. The film is suppose to represent the series’ great civil war but it’s execution barely rates higher than a middle school scrum. Will audiences be intrigued enough to continue the series past Insurgent?
Following the assault on Abnegation by Jeanine’s mind-controlled Dauntless soldiers in the first film, Eric (Jai Courtney) and his platoon are searching through the wreckage of Abnegation for an artifact, a box of unknown origin containing the symbols of all the factions. Upon its recovery, the box is taken to Erudite, where Jeanine claims that she believes it to contain a message from the city’s founders, and the means to end the Divergent problem once and for all. However, only a Divergent can open the box, and she orders that all Divergents be hunted down and captured.
We find Tris, Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller), and Caleb (Ansel Elgort), weirdly enough all three love interests from Woodley’s last three films, hiding out amongst Amity, who have offered the group sanctuary. All four have become fugitives now after Jeanine has declared that Divergents and their sympathizers are enemies of the city. After being tracked down by Eric and the rest of his dauntless followers, the group is forced to split up and escape. Tris decides to take the fight to Jeanine’s doorstep by attacking Erudite, but Four knows the fight will be harder than Tris thinks. Knowing an army is needed, Four hopes to reconnect with their dauntless faction and reassess the situation, but an unlikely ally presents itself which will force Tris and Four to make hard decisions. With the lives of her friends at stake, Tris makes a decision that will have ramifications for all the people she loves and will take her deep into enemy territory to face her fate.
Fans of the Insurgent novel will notice quite a bit of differences between the book, but writer Veronica Roth believes the changes “really work” so I guess we should too. The story is constructed in a way to keep us wanting to know what’s in that box, but it stalls at various times during the film as the need to plug in some unnecessary cry time for Woodley’s Tris just to let us know what we already assume, which is that this is all really trying on the young hero. The chemistry on screen between Woodley and James has improved drastically over the last film, which is a positive, as the original film had some truly awkward moments between the two. Woodley herself is becoming more comfortable with the character and it really shows on screen. Kate Winslet never seems to truly grasp the concept of being the antagonist. The actress has a fantastic scene presence, but really needed to let go over her constraints and let her inner psychopath out. The rest of the supporting cast, minus Teller who is enjoyable in his limited screen time, is relegated to the background this time around with a few welcome additions from the book series who were omitted from the first film.
If nothing else, the second installment into the The Divergent Series, Insurgent, will act as a primer for the real show when Allegiant: Part 1 hit theaters next year. Insurgent is much better than a lot of the YA adaptations out there and fans of the series will no doubt be left with a lot to talk about, but don’t fear those among us that don’t read, the film is much different than the book so you won’t be left in the dark. Insurgent is a fun popcorn movie that should entertain teens and adults alike.