Insurgent (2015) Mini Review

“This is the only chance to rescue what little civilization we have left.”

Directed by: Robert Schwentke

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Octavia Spencer, Jai Courtney, Kate Winslet, Miles Teller

Official synopsis:

The Divergent Series: Insurgent raises the stakes for Tris as she searches for allies and answers in the ruins of a futuristic chicago. Tris (Woodley) and Four (James) are now fugitives on the run, hunted by Jeanine (Winslet), the leader of the power-hungry Erudite elite. Racing against time, they must find out what Tris’s family sacrificed their lives to protect, and why the Erudite leaders will do anything to stop them. Haunted by her past choices but desperate to protect the ones she loves, Tris, with Four at her side, faces one impossible challenge after another as they unlock the truth about the past and ultimately the future of their world.

Mini Review:

If the first instalment in the burgeoning Divergent Series was middling, then Insurgent can only be described as poor, and a step back for what had the potential to be a reasonable crack at dystopian young adult drama. It’s not unwatchable, but it simply doesn’t develop or move things forward enough to justifiably stand up next to the elite of the genre.

In my review of Divergent I questioned whether Woodley has the presence to convincingly pull off her role as the rebel leader, and with Insurgent I received my answer – No. In one particularly ridiculous scene, Woodley’s Tris stands trial, and to prove her innocence agrees to take a truth serum. What I’m sure was meant to play as a powerful, moving scene quickly degenerates into ridiculousness, as she spills truths about her past with a distinct lack of conviction.

Spider-Woodley.
Spider-Woodley.

Sadly it’s that lack of conviction that undercuts any potential for her to become a truly likeable character, or a particularly believable one either. Why is she so important? We see a growing number of other Divergents throughout, so what separates her and makes her so crucial? We see very little evidence of her excelling in leadership, combat, or generally as an empathetic human being, so why her? The films tells us that there are different levels of Divergence, with Tris being at 100% Divergent, but I’m calling nonsense on this.

The problem is that the rules of the world of the Divergent Series just haven’t been well enough defined. In Divergent this was mostly passable, with the story taking place on a smaller scale, but with Insurgent the story universe begins to open up, more factions, lore and Divergents are introduced and without the film having laid the foundations to prop it all up, it leads to plot holes and poorly defined characters, and rules for them to operate within. Woodley gives her best effort to impose herself in the lead role, but the narrative – including crucial evidence of her character’s importance – is just so poorly held together that it gives her little chance of succeeding.

The film just doesn’t seem to want to help itself, with characters flip flopping from good to evil and back again in every other scene, and questionable dialogue, such as “I’m not gonna fight you.” – “Of course you’re not. You’re gonna fight you.” littered throughout.

It’s not all a bomb though. Proceedings start well enough with a fairly zippy action set piece, and the best component of the first movie returns, the ever unpleasant Eric, again brought to life with glorious villainy by Jai Courtney. Kate Winslet is also back, and does a reasonable job in her villainous role – but much like Courtney she finds herself underused.

All in all it means that there is plenty of work to be done to rescue the franchise moving forward, but the vital signs are not looking particularly good. You should probably just watch The Hunger Games instead.

In short:

Sloppy, underwhelming and not all that exciting, Insurgent is undeniably a move backwards for the series. Don’t worry though, the final book in the trilogy has been split into two parts, so that’s something for us all to look forward to…..

Rating (out of 5):

1.5 Stars

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. I think the movie was really good!! Especially the special effects!! I did wish that they would have added some of the scenes from the book like when Tris was under the Amity serum. What I found really weird was that the box was hiding under Tris’s house and that she was the only one who could open that box!! I am really excited for the next movies and hope that they make a movie based off of the book ‘Four’!! I would love to see Tobias (Theo James) in that movie because the book was awesome!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Luke Kent says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the movie 🙂

      I got the impression that I might have gotten more from it if I had read the books beforehand, as I didn’t feel that the factions were well defined, nor the universe, but I suppose there’s only so much that can be squeezed in! I much preferred Divergent to Insurgent, I hope that the next film will up the ante!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope so too!! I am already waiting for the next film to come out!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. teachezwell says:

    I enjoy your reviews more than the movies themselves! After seeing Divergent, I totally understood what you were saying. My husband can’t stand movies where no one is worth liking, and I have to say, I’m beginning to view them that way as well. We have to get you a column in a leading paper. Hmm….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Luke Kent says:

      Haha, you’re very kind! I’m working on getting that column 😝 – Especially in a movie where you’re meant to be backing a “heroic” rebel it’s so important that they’re likeable and relatable, but I wasn’t getting that feeling from this film – maybe they’ll get it right in the next one 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. teachezwell says:

        National syndication would be perfect! No joke! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ben says:

    I liked this more than you but can see what you mean about Tris being a poor central character. It seems that troubled and deep can be replaced with moody and wooden. It’s a complaint I have with the Katniss in Hunger Games too though.

    The plot holes were there but the story and where it was going made up for a lot of it. I also liked the ending. Still got my interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Luke Kent says:

    I had high hopes for this, the trailer looked fun and Divergent was decent, so I was hoping for a step up in quality, but I felt it was a bit muddled. Tris is very sullen constantly (much like Katniss), but I personally don’t feel that Woodley has the same screen presence as Lawrence….though I did re-watch Mockingjay Part 2 recently and didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did the first time….maybe I’m just getting cynical lol!

    Like

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