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The Divergent Series: Insurgent Movie Review

Reviewed by on Mar 20, 2015
Rating: 3 Star Rating

The fight against Erudite is in full swing in Insurgent, the 2nd film based on the popular Divergent novels. Will Tris overcome her own emotional demons to become the strong leader her people need?

By: Lynn Barker

Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) as a lot to overcome in Insurgent; a lie she’s kept hidden is forced out of her and things are iffy with boyfriend Four/Tobias. Can Tris face and conquer her own self-doubt or will she die trying?

Tris breaks out of a simulationTris breaks out of a simulationCourtesy of Lionsgate

Story Goes

Having taken shelter with the farm-centric Amity faction after escaping the city when the Abnegation group was near-slaughtered in the last film, Tris Prior, her love Four/Tobias (Theo James), enemy Peter (Miles Teller) and brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) know their time is limited. Meanwhile, Eric (Jai Courtney) has delivered a box, secretly buried under the Prior home, to Erudite leader Jeanine as her soldiers, with added Dauntless traitors, storm the farmland to test everyone for possible Divergent traits. Tris and gang have to run.

Four doesn't want Tris to turn herself inFour doesn't want Tris to turn herself inCourtesy of Lionsgate

Looking for just the right Divergent person to open the secret message in the box, Jeanine goes through several who die trying. On the way to the city, Tris and her group run into tough Factionless folks who, when Four tells them he is Tobias Eaton, they back off and take him to their leader Evelyn (Naomi Watts) Tobias’s supposedly dead mother who abandoned him when he was only six. She hopes he and Dauntless fighters will join her in overthrowing the Erudite government. Tobias refuses.

Evelyn (Naomi Watts) greets her sonEvelyn (Naomi Watts) greets her sonCourtesy of Lionsgate

Learning that remaining Dauntless members are taking shelter inside the Candor group, Tris and Four go there while Caleb stays behind, saying he’s not cut out for a war and doesn’t fit in. Tris is reunited with Christina (Zoe Kravitz) but Candor leader Kang (Daniel Dae Kim) puts Tris and Four on trial for supposedly leading the Dauntless attack on Abnegation. Under truth serum, Four admits his love for Tris and she has to admit that she shot and killed friend Will in self-defense. Christina, who loved Will, overhears and won’t speak to her.

Kang (Daniel Dae Kim) confronts Four and TrisKang (Daniel Dae Kim) confronts Four and TrisCourtesy of Lionsgate

Suddenly, the compound is attacked by Erudite forces and everyone is implanted with trackers that will enable Jeanine to tell who is Divergent. Eric finally grabs Tris and uses a tool to learn that she is the strongest of all Divergents; the perfect test subject to open the box. Tris escapes but, when Jeanine forces various Dauntless members to commit suicide until she turns herself in, Tris has to leave her love Four to stop the deaths.

Tiny Tris inside a simulationTiny Tris inside a simulation

Under Jeanine’s control, Tris is hooked up to a simulator that will force her to undergo simulations for all four factions. She must survive all to open the box and reveal what Jeanine thinks is a message from the founders to rid the world of Divergents thus retaining the peace. Of course, Tris survives the horrible tests while traitor brother Caleb, at Jeanine’s side, looks on and Peter turns out to be on her side. Finally, the Factionless and Dauntless groups rescue her but she is determined to open the box, sure that her parents would not have protected something that would condemn all Divergents.

Jeanine prepares to run sims on Tris as Caleb looks onJeanine prepares to run sims on Tris as Caleb looks onCourtesy of Lionsgate

The founders’ message is the total opposite of Jeanine’s assumption, favoring Divergents as the true saviors of society. With people from all factions joining together, there is a mass exodus toward the land outside the wall where the founders are supposedly waiting. Tris and Four lead but Evelyn stays behind for a special duty.

Four (Theo James) tries to save Tris (Shailene Woodley)Four (Theo James) tries to save Tris (Shailene Woodley)Courtesy of Lionsgate

Wrapping Up

Devotees of the novels will find that much is altered in the Insurgent film version yet the basic story points remain the same…. except for an unexpected shocker at the film’s end.  Overall, the movie clarifies many of the novel’s vague facts, what’s at stake is better explained and, for me (I did read the books), this is a plus although some purists won’t like the addition of “the box”. Still, newbies to the story will probably be scratching their heads and wondering who is who and which side they are on throughout the film.

Four tells Peter (Miles Teller) and Tris they must runFour tells Peter (Miles Teller) and Tris they must runCourtesy of Lionsgate

Again, Shailene proves what a dynamic actress she is in both physical and demanding emotional scenes with the talented Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts and Kate Winslet providing great supporting roles even though they are underused. At the center of the faction vs. faction chaos, it’s really Tris’s film. Ansel Elgort is very believable as the conflicted yet traitorous bro Caleb while Theo James looks hunky but displays less of the emotions I would expect when he meets his assumed dead mom.

Tris inside one of the scary simulationsTris inside one of the scary simulations

I saw the film in IMAX 3-D and it looks great. Action and pace move right along with the story more streamlined so there is little time to be too bored. Production design of the ruined cityscape and the look of Tris’s simulation challenges are impressive. We believe this ruined world does exist.

Theo James and Shailene Woodley at film's screeningTheo James and Shailene Woodley at film's screening

Being the “second act” of the Divergent story, Insurgent does set things up for a final resolution in the two film version of the “Allegiant” novel but there is no great rebellion as in Hunger Games, just a skirmish that seems too suddenly resolved. While giving kudos to the worthy actors involved, we must go three stars.

The Divergent Series: Insurgent Movie Rating:3

The Divergent Series: Insurgent PosterThe Divergent Series: Insurgent PosterCourtesy of Lionsgate

The Divergent Series: Insurgent is in theaters now!