The Divergent Series: Insurgent is the second film in the movie franchise based on the young-adult books written by Veronica Roth. Set in a post-apocalyptic version of Chicago, the movies focus on a young girl named Tris (Shailene Woodley), who defies the new society of prearranged factions. In the first film, Tris struggled as she learned the ropes as a member of the “Dauntless” faction, a fierce group of law enforcers who keep Chicago clean of crime.
After discovering that one of the five other factions, the intelligent “Erudites”, planned to overthrow the current government and eliminate other important factions, Tris and her mentor/love interest Four (Theo James) must survive as fugitives on the run. With more action, a bigger budget, and a hefty focus on philosophy and character development, Insurgent attempts to add some weight to this somewhat by-the-numbers YA tale. Although Insurgent offers some fun action sequences, it struggles to break free of its angsty tone and convoluted narrative.
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The Movie Review
Insurgent’s story picks up a few weeks after the events of the first film. Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the scheming leader of the Erudite faction, begins to execute her evil plan to overtake Chicago, using the attack against the Abnegation faction as an avenue of propaganda. Instead of taking ownership of the deadly insurrection, Jeanine blames the attack on Tris and a group of unhinged rebels and begins to hunt down other “divergents” throughout the city.
Now in possession of a mystical box that requires a divergent to unlock, Jeanine edges closer to her corrupt state of absolute power. Meanwhile, Tris and Four, along with Tris’ brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and their tentative ally Peter (Miles Teller), have sought refuge with the Amity faction. Unfortunately, it’s not long before Jeanine’s goons start their search for divergents, forcing the group to flee.
As Tris and her friends attempt to evade capture, they weave through Chicago, visiting various faction bases and meeting new characters. For the first hour of the movie, Insurgent attempts to expand the world established in the first film, adding in some supporting characters while hinting toward a greater fight.
Both Tris and Four make visits to the honest Candor faction, while also experiencing life from the perspective of a factionless citizen. There’s a constant barrage of new sub-plots, plot twists, and character drama, which starts to make the story feel convoluted and messy. Most of the storytelling serves as a vehicle for the action, with a predictable path toward a confrontation between Tris and Jeanine.
Luckily, there are some inventive and fun action scenes to break up the otherwise scattered and uninspired plot. When compared to other popular young-adult movies like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, the Divergent series offers a slightly more fantastical tone of excitement.
At one point, Tris must undergo a test that leads her through a series of simulations, resulting in some explosive and creatively designed sequences. There are some standout moments with weak CGI, but for the most part, the special effects in Insurgent are stylized and entertaining. You can still expect some fun fight scenes too, which have grown better since the first film.
While Insurgent offers better action and a larger world than the first movie, it doesn’t always work. The plot is sloppy and shifts all over the place, hopping from one uninspired and convoluted point to the next. This detracts from the intrigue and mystery that was established in the original movie, pushing the narrative into more predictable territory. Although the plot itself is predictable and riddled with conveniences and plot holes, there’s some enjoyable action to see.
There are also a handful of strong performances, specifically from Shailene Woodley in the lead role. All told, Insurgent isn’t a terrible movie, it’s just a weak sequel that misses the mark. Fans of the books will likely enjoy seeing their favorite characters and moments onscreen, but apart from some cool action scenes, Insurgent doesn’t bring much else to the table.
- Strong performance from Shailene Woodley
- Some creative action scenes
- Fun set-piece moments
- Uninspired storytelling
- Some poor CGI
- Needlessly convoluted