Insurgent – film review

"Insurgent" theatrical teaser poster.
“Insurgent” theatrical teaser poster.
The movie Insurgent was a slightly flawed, but solid, sequel to Divergent, with excellent special effects, strong performances by the lead actors, and a compelling story, but it suffered from the typical problems books encounter after visiting Hollywood.

In the last movie, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) of the Dauntless faction foil a plot by Erudite faction and Dauntless leaders to enslave Dauntless soldiers as highly trained automatons tasked to eradicate the faction of Abnegation. If being Divergent before made Tris unpopular, overthrowing a coup d’état has made Tris and Four public enemies. This movie starts out with them on the run. When Erudite starts killing off Dauntless rebels via remote, Tris turns herself in.

It seems that the founders of the faction system left a box to be unlocked by somebody who was 100% Divergent, and Erudite leader, Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is desperate to see what is inside. Anybody less than 100% dies in the attempt, not that this causes Jeanine to lose sleep. Lucky for Tris she’s the only 100%er in Chicago. Will the message from the founders empower Erudite, and will Tris die while revealing its secret?

Insurgent suffered from in-the-middle-itis. Middle chapters are important. A great deal of groundwork for the story is usually laid out in the first chapter, and the third chapter reveals all secrets and concludes all conflict. Middle chapters, on the other hand, need to allow plot to develop, tempt viewers with mysteries and unresolved conflicts, and still be entertaining. This is usually done with strong characters. Unfortunately, with so much material to cover, there wasn’t a lot of room for character development—or context sometimes. This is where the movie falls short.

I felt Tris’ brother was the character that fared worst in the movie, but he was incidental at best. Tris the character, however, was a disappointment. She wasn’t quite as strong in this movie. She was showed being vulnerable, caring, and sacrificing, but not resolute and dauntless. It felt more like she was swept up in the plot on her way to the credits. Chris’s anger over Tris killing her boyfriend was also unrealistically abbreviated in the movie. If you love the characters from the book, you may find yourself disappointed with the Insurgent movie.

All that aside, the movie experience was enjoyable. There was believable depth to the settings and culture. Seeing Veronica Roth‘s world brought to life in such a spectacular way could be breathtaking at times. The future tech and special effects were mesmerizing, and the main actors brought strong performances. Shailene Woodley gave the best performance, so despite the lack of depth in comparison to the book, she made the story very compelling.

If you’re looking for a movie that has a quick pace with science-fiction and dystopian fiction elements that are engaging and intriguing, then Insurgent is a good flick and a worthy sequel. There may be plot points here and there that suffer for lack of context, but one doesn’t need to have read the book to enjoy the movie.

Release Date: March 20, 2015 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Language: English

MySF Rating: Three point five stars
Family Friendliness: 70%


Alcohol/Drugs: 0
Language: 2 (some mild cussing, one mouthed f-word)
Nudity: 1 (side-boob)
Sexuality: 3 (Tris & Four undress each other while kissing, sex is implied)
Violence: 3 (gunplay, explosions, executions, deaths, implied execution of children)

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