Hollywood is definitely riding a teen apocalyptic book-to-movie trend right now (think MazerunnerEnder's Game, and Hunger Games) And clearly there's a market for it (who do you think the PG-13 rating was meant for)? So far the Divergent films have proven to be a worthy component in the genre.

Recap: It is post-apocalyptic Chicago and a fearful dictatorial government has risen from the ashes. In the aftermath they create a system for preserving the peace by separating the culture into five factions based on personality characteristics: Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, Amity, and Candor. An annual compulsory test is given to 16-year-old's to determine which faction they are best suited to. 

Shalene Woodley returns as the protagonist Tris Prior, who has proven compatible with one too many factions making her a divergent. However, divergents' are a threat to the control and balance of the system and are sought after and eliminated. Tris briefly fakes dauntless compatibility for survival, but her secret is outed. She manages to escape the city and elude council leader Jeanine, but has become a fugitive in the process along with Four, Caleb and Peter. However, the cost of escaping the system has come at great personal cost to her and to those who align themselves with her. Insurgent picks up where the last film ends with Tris, Four, Caleb and Peter on the run. They have managed to thwart Jeanine's plans for the moment, but a merciless hunt ensues for the four renegades who are now factionless. 

Shalene Woodley as Tris has the opportunity to pull out some emotional depth in her character since she is tormented by the loss of her parents, her faction and her identity. Woodley does it admirably enough to allow you to emphasize with her struggles to thwart the system that has destroyed everything she loves. Woodley infuses the character with a delicate combination of toughness and innocence that engages us for the ride.

Theo James (Four) plays the hero and romantic lead to Tris, and he first appears as just another tough-fighter-dude caricature, but thankfully, he ripens in the part with a few secrets of his own, which are revealed as the story progresses. Miles Teller plays Peter the back-stabbing opportunist of the group who is hungry for power and recognition. The rest of the original cast returns with the additions of Australian actress Naomi Watts (Birdman) as Marlene and Octavia Spencer (The Help). Finally, English acting goddess Kate Winslet returns as Jeanine, and she never disappoints. Winslet spoons out the role of Jeanine with the clinical frigidity of a Gestapo agent - guaranteed to frost even the hottest summer day.

Insurgent is only the second installation of a four part movie franchise channeling the "teens run the world" theme. And the fact that the series has chosen to break the third and final book "Allegiant" into 2 parts totaling four films instead of three doesn't help me get past the copy-cat idea of another movie with a kick-ass teenage girl on the run (you know the one I mean).

Let me just say that I actually thought the second film was a better story than Divergent. Perhaps it was new director Robert Schwentke's touch, or the growth of the characters and progressive story line. Many times "in-between" films come across more like filler material than substantive story. However, Schwentke (RED) was able to smooth the gap between films and directorial styles, which is always risky when you step into another director's shoes. I confess that I haven't read the series, but this film ended really well; in fact I'd have been okay if it stopped right there. But we all know that Hollywood cannot resist the momentum of a sequel train. We can only hope the other installments stay interesting enough to keep us engaged to the end of the journey.

Like Hunger Games and Mazerunner, this film is filled with social metaphors that massage the fantasy of every teen between the age of thirteen and twenty-one. Each story implies dissatisfaction with a world ruled by adults, and implies that a society filled with fresh-faced adolescents would be more effectively ruled. 

Whether interesting or disturbing, Insurgent is a social awareness commentary that moves along the conversation; about overreaching government control and demagogues that rule indiscriminately, that somehow waxes poetic in the forerunner days of an election season.


  1. Well written Carol, but I read the books and think that Woodley's lame in the part.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I thought she was passable, but no Jennifer Lawrence.


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