As far as Insurgent goes, it's not urgent to see the second instalment of this series
Divergent left us waiting to find out what was going to happen to this newly formed band of outcasts on the run. Tris escaped the city and left us wondering what being a Divergent actually meant.Imagine a world where The Hunger Games meets an Orwellian society set in a quasi futuristic Chicago after an apparent devastating war and you have the setting for Insurgent. Law and order are imposed by segmenting people into factions which is determined by an aptitude test taken at the age of sixteen. There are five factions based on human virtues: Abnegation, Candor, Amity, Erudite and Dauntless. Most people fall directly into one of them, however, some people fall into all 5. They are called Divergents and our protagonist Tris is one of them.
After witnessing the death of her parents at the hands of her Dauntless comrades, Tris is left with the emotional guilt that motivates her actions throughout the rest of the film. Desperate to ensure her mother’s death was not in vein, Tris tries to make sense of what being a Divergent means and why Jeanine wants to eradicate them. After seeking solace within the sickeningly sweet utopian world of Amity, the outcasts are discovered by Eric (Jai Courtney), Jeanine’s errand boy, and so begins the first of many chase scenes with the expected gun fire, near misses and of course the impeccable timing of a passing train.
Finding their way into the secret lair of the Factionless, which is all too similar to the world of Zion in The Matrix, Tris, her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Four (Theo James) have an over the top looking dinner (which seems completely out of place) with Evelyn to discuss their next steps. Having found common ground with Evelyn (Naomi Watts), who also wants to remove Jeanine from power, Tris and Four leave the Factionless hideout to regroup with the remainder of Dauntless who they discover are hiding within Candor. After a brief reunion with what’s left of Dauntless, Tris and Four are subjected to a hearing in front the leaders of Candor to prove their innocence and expose Jeanine’s ruthless killing.
Meanwhile, Jeanine has discovered a mysterious looking box which she believes will be the key to restoring control and compliance within the factions, however, she needs a Divergent to unlock it’s secrets. Realising that Tris is in fact ‘the one’ (sound familiar?) to unlock the box, Jeanine sends her army out to Candor to retrieve Tris and bring her back to the Erudite HQ. Obviously things don’t go to plan, as Tris is freed with the help from Four and the rest of the remaining Dauntless guys, only after some covert operation style action from Eric and his team.
The film culminates with Tris trying to pass all five faction simulations in order to open the box in a desperate plea to appease Jeanine and get her stop slaughtering any more innocent people. This all takes place within the walls of the Erudite building which is full of high-tech equipment and is brilliantly sterile looking, a complete contrast to the crumbling world outside. We see Tris go through the first of five simulations which is clearly a representation of the guilt she feels towards the death of her mother, each shown to us dripping with CGI and making full use of the 3D effect. As Tris progresses through the simulations with ease, it seems Jeanine’s goal of unlocking the box’s secret is getting closer.
Tris’s character in Insurgent comes across more like an angsty teenager than she probably should. The moments where she has sudden outbursts of anger followed by intimate moments of affection with Four just don’t seem to mesh together, illustrated by her sudden impulse decision to cut off all her hair in a desperate attempt to cut herself off from the past. Tris is believable as a girl who is deeply traumatised by the loss of her parents and carrying the guilt of their death on her shoulders but, as someone the future of the city is depending on, that unfortunately is not as believable. Kate Winslet delivers a good performance as the brutal Erudite leader almost underacting in the role. Having seen Winslet play a series of good girl characters, her delivery of a ruthless and determined villain is somewhat unnerving, with her eerily cool and calm demeanour she portrays the character of Jeanine well.
Insurgent brings nothing new or exciting to the table… it has all been seen and done before.
Another good performance comes from Miles Teller as Peter, recently seen in the hit Whiplash, as the antagonising tag along. Teller plays the irritating fourth wheel, who doesn’t seem trustworthy or reliable at all but does have a significant role to play in the story’s development. There are a number of characters from the first film that don’t seem to have any significant role but yet still appear in Insurgent. Four’s father makes another appearance, played by Ray Stevenson, trying to rebuild the relationship with his son but nothing comes of it and nor is it ever mentioned again. The large cast can be somewhat confusing at times and does make it hard to sympathise with anyone other than Tris. One significant point that is worth mentioning is the strong female cast and the leading positions they play. Insurgent is a far cry from the male led films we were used to seeing not so long ago. Portraying women as leaders of communities and capable of leading an army to war is a bold move and is one thing that Insurgent should be recognised for.
Insurgent follows on well from the first film, which is impressive considering new director Robert Schwentke (Flight Plan, R.E.D) took over from Neil Burger who directed Divergent. The scope and feel of the city from Divergent transcends and seamlessly continues on throughout Insurgent. Despite limitations with the actual story, the film is well shot and put together managing to display some impressive landscape shots of the desolate city. The storyline feels even weaker second time around, lending itself to ideas and themes similar to that of Logan’s Run and The Matrix; Insurgent isn’t a story of originality or uniqueness, more like one regurgitating old ideas. The concept of a city segregated and under the control of a disillusioned dictator is nothing new or innovative. Tris being ‘the one’ is a trope we’ve witnessed in many films exploring the idea of a world under a fascist regime which can only be brought down by that one special individual.
A large portion of the special effects used in Insurgent are focussed within the last half hour of the film. With no new techniques utilised, the effects are nice to look at, however they do little to help the development of the plot. The choice to see the film in 3D is available, however, it’s not essential nor as visually gratifying as past releases like Avatar, especially considering most of the 3D effect takes place within the last 30 minutes. Although Insurgent is part of a trilogy (the last film will be in two parts), it is still a whole story within itself, so seeing Divergent isn’t a requirement in understanding the plot. Insurgent ties up most of the loose ends, even sort of explaining the purpose of the gigantic wall, finishing with an attempt at a cliffhanger to try and draw crowds back in for the next film.
Insurgent is easy to watch and doesn’t require much thinking or brain power to make sense of this world we are presented with but the storyline is far too easy to predict, especially for those who are familiar with these types of films, leaving very few surprises, if any.
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