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INSURGENT Future Imperfect

Insurgent
Insurgent

Directed by Robert Schwentke 

Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet

The Divergent universe is always going to be the poor cousin to The Hunger Games. Both are adapted from YA literature with young heroines struggling against a corrupt system in a  future dystopia, and they do touch on similar themes of inequity in this regard. For Katniss the issue is about class and the unequal distribution of wealth. For Tris it is caste, the assignment of position based on your function. In the Divergent world, you are quiet literally your job.

After the event portrayed in the previous film, Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Caleb (Ansel Egot) and Peter (Miles Teller) are still recovering  and trying to work out what to do next. Their fight against Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and the Erudite faction’s coup will require them to garner allies and to seek out the rest of the now divided Dauntless. This quest takes them from the farmlands of Amity to the towers of Candor and the ruins of the Factionless. Meanwhile, Jeanine has discovered a secret that Tris’s mother was hiding, a secret that might cement her growing power base. It is a box, containing a message from the Founders, a message that only a Divergent can open.

Insurgent hits the ground running, managing to continue this breakneck pace for the majority of its run. Spared the set-up that burdened the previous Divergent film, it instead plunges into the civil war and moves through Jeanine’s mad plans for the Divergent population. It’s filled with new alliances, battles, betrayals, secret agendas, romance, a mystical MacGuffin, villainous  monologues, and Tris gaining self confidence (after still more crying).  The introduction of the Founders’ message allows for some breathtaking scenes that throw gravity and physics right out the window, as the Divergent go through computer generated simulations in an attempt to open the box.

Yet all this really is noise and fury. With so much seemingly happening around Tris, not a lot actually happens. True, we do get a fundamental change in the structure of the city, but Tris is at best a catalyst to this, at worst a mere bystander (although now sporting a cute short hairdo).  Instead Tris is more involved with the MacGuffin  and the ‘chosen one’ narrative that is being firmly bolted onto her character as she Neos through the various simulations in an attempt to unlock the box. This really is a middle placeholder movie, carrying over the momentum from the first film and setting up for the conclusion in the third. Director Robert Schwentke (RED) does well to hide this under enough flash and thunder to produce a reasonably enjoyable film, but it is still an inescapable fact.

Flawed, but enjoyable, Insurgent has a strong young cast combined with enough thrills to at least make you curious as to how the how Divergent saga will finally end.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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