Insurgent is all one could hope for in a sequel yet, unfortunately, is burdened by a familiar script due to the many other similar trilogies out there.
Director: Robert Schwentke
Writer: Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman and Mark Bomback (screenplay) | Veronica Roth (source material)
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Characters & Story
With the divergent group escaping, comes the question of what’s next? Tris (Shailene Woodley) is dealing with a serious case of PTSD, the Amity, especially Johanna (Octavia Spencer) are getting tired of her occasional outbursts, and Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is on the hunt for any and all divergent. To the point that she is using her dauntless army, headed by Max (Mekhi Phifer) and Eric (Jai Courtney), to go into every faction and scan each and every one for the possibility of a divergent. Though, as we learn with time, it isn’t simply for the sake of genocide. The true goal deals with a message from the founders which Jeanine believes could give guidance. However, only a divergent could deliver the message, leading to only you know who being able to provide all the answers. Though, of course, between Four (Theo James), and a woman we meet named Evelyn (Naomi Watts), it seems that no matter what the founders’ message maybe, peace will not come to their world.
Woodley continues to show this sort of vulnerability which helps Tris stand out amongst the many heroines since Harry Potter paved the way for all these young adult novel adaptations. For while, arguably, The Hunger Games, and the many others out there, do present sorrowful characters, who are dealing with far too much at their age, there is something about Woodley which reminds you that the peak of her career won’t come from this series.
Woodley aside, and focusing on the story, while there isn’t much to praise when it comes to the main story, I must admit I found myself enjoying the romantic plot between Tris and Four. For with the last film ending in a hug, rather than a kiss, and we seeing the two of them be more than two people attracted to the physical appearance of one another, it makes for a more likable romance. Which isn’t to say, in the infinite comparisons there are, that Tris and Four are better or worse than any other couple out there, but with them seemingly taking it slow, and not kissing and sleeping together in the first film, it does really make it seem there is some sort of genuine love there.
Perhaps leaving the last bit of praise for the character Peter (Miles Teller), and a little for Caleb (Ansel Elgort) as well. If only because Teller, often for me, sort of out did Winslet at the villain of the film, and his character didn’t really have any powerful forces behind him. Then, when it comes to Elgort, like Teller, there is just this chemistry he has with Woodley which makes it so that, whether they are relatives or lovers, it is hard to say you don’t enjoy the two of them sharing scenes together. Leading me to hope that the two gentlemen collaborate with Woodley repeatedly throughout their careers.
Perhaps the main issue with Insurgent is that it is a rather tame film. For while people get shot, die, and there are good performances here and there, it doesn’t necessarily push as hard as it should to stand out. After all, there are so many similar Young Adult series being adapted, and while the first films feel fresh, mostly due to seemingly important characters dying, the series thereafter feels formulaic.
Which is an issue for Insurgent since, while little comical moments from Teller, Elgort, or Woodley, help wake you up, largely it feels like you are watching a reenactment of a movie you already saw. One in which the lead cries as they deal with their grief, which of course their model-esque love interest helps with ; then you have a villain who can be considered stuck in their ways, possibly afraid of change, somewhat understandable, but never complex enough to make you want to take their side; and then, of course, there is that one ally who for various reasons, somehow ends up on the villain’s side for a period of time.
Overall: TV Viewing
Insurgent is enjoyable, but at this point there isn’t any sort of artistry to the film. I mean, yes, the camera shots are beautiful, the special effects are interesting, and Woodley, Elgort, and Teller, are making sure this series doesn’t drag them down like Twilight did to Kristen Stewart, but there remains this sense that Insurgent is lazy. If only because, story-wise, it doesn’t seem to challenge the viewer as much as it either panders to them or keeps things simple. Hence the TV Viewing rating for while effort can be seen, it is clearly obvious that there was no aim to make this something you’d want to repeatedly watch. The people behind the camera just wanted to put out something decent, make some money, and keep milking this cow for all it is worth.
Things To Note
 One could argue that Four doesn’t necessarily help Tris with her grief and issues. He supports her, and is there for her, but ultimately she is the one facing her demons and challenging herself to accept what has been done, learn to deal with it, and find some ways to survive despite what has happened.
Zoe Kravitz’s role is drastically reduced, and Octavia Spencer is barely in the movie.