Insurgent (2015)
Insurgent (2015)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 59 min.

Release Date: March 20th, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Robert Schwentke Actors: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Miles Teller, Zoe Kravitz, Octavia Spencer, Ray Stevenson, Ashley Judd, Naomi Watts, Maggie Q, Ansel Elgort




id all young adult science-fiction authors of the last decade get together before writing their respective novels and determine to start with the same basic plot? Have they all read each other’s works? This certainly seems to be the case. But being heavily derivative doesn’t necessarily equate to a destitution of entertainment value, as “Insurgent” contains a degree of amusing shootouts, chases, rescues, and other close-call scenarios that ratchet up the suspense and action (comparable to its brethren). Unfortunately, a weepy heroine and overly predictable perils attempt to defuse the tension. It’s not expected – and certainly not required – that teen actioners exhibit complete originality, but it’s troubling that one needs not view the previous installment in the series to already know everything that’s happened… and everything that will happen.

Blamed for the coup at Abnegation, former Dauntless members Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), Tobias “Four” Eaton (Theo James), and Peter Hayes (Miles Teller), along with Erudite Caleb Prior (Ansel Elgort), take refuge in Amity. But it’s not long before dictatorial leader Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) sends armed soldiers, led by the merciless Eric Coulter (Jai Courtney), to locate the scattered insurgents. Fleeing to Candor, the ragtag group of rebels must ally with their honor-driven hosts, the remaining Dauntless warriors, and the exiled Factionless if they hope to stop Jeanine’s nefarious plot to rule over all of Chicago.

Separating civilians of a postapocalyptic future world by personality and aptitude is merely another take on Orwell’s famous vision of overreaching governmental control. In “Insurgent,” the notions of conformity, rebellion, and the corrupted orchestration of martial law are also excessively familiar – joining the ranks of nearly every teen adventure novel since the turn of the century. It’s routinely difficult to sort out the intricacies of this particular fantasy setting because the details are so unoriginal – especially when compared to all the other currently ongoing movie series, like “The Hunger Games” and “The Maze Runner.”

“Only a Divergent can open this box.” Since the first entry was largely a standalone piece, the follow-up has to invent new, contrived ideas to extend the plot. In the most unexpectedly satisfying twist, “Insurgent” is also incredibly self-contained, possessing a discernible beginning, middle, and end. Despite a few flashbacks to fill in the opening, and insufficient tidbits to remind audiences why Jeanine is the villain (she does look the part), the movie operates quite independently – which is a huge deviation from the standard continuations of other franchises that care very little for anyone who is not a fan.

Miles Teller is the most dynamic, interesting character in the film (perhaps due to his sensational turn in “Whiplash” in 2014), the antagonist henchmen are exhaustingly generic, the dialogue is despairingly uninspired, and the surprises are never very surprising. Plus, Woodley just doesn’t have the onscreen presence or appearance of strength necessary to make a convincing leader – especially with her squeaky voice and frequent tears. However, at numerous moments throughout, the picture wavers on the verge of something exhilarating. And though it delivers on occasion (two specific scenes feature far more boldness than any of the competition), there are plenty of other sequences that swiftly negate the brief awe; some of the problems from “Divergent” are overhauled, while fresh cinematic headaches are alternately arranged. And the simulation stuff (a major component of the stories) is permanently, hopelessly silly.

– The Massie Twins

  • 4/10