Veronica Roth’s vision of a dystopian future where peace loving peoples’ fate is tied to a young woman is nothing new in the base story department in her Divergent book series.
But, what sets the Divergent world apart is how the heroine (Shailene Woodley as Tris Prior) has an equally powerful female foe, dictator Jeanine (Kate Winslet). That battle between these two sides continues in the sequel to Divergent, the aptly titled Insurgent.
That dichotomy between the one who is right, Tris, and the one who is clearly on the wrong side of things, Jeanine, gets a third powerful female to the mix, Naomi Watts’ Evelyn.
As teased in the Insurgent trailer, Tris is having some issues with how things ended when you watch Divergent online. It wasn’t pretty and although she may have found the love of her life in Four (Theo James), she has lost much that is near and dear to her. She is having nightmares. Tris and Four are on the run and have found themselves in the faction Amity where they are trying to lay low while their leader Johanna (Octavia Spencer) worries that their presence might bring the government knocking down their earthly doors. Well, guess what happens?
Tris and Four go back on the run and Tris’ brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) tries to keep up. They are the most wanted folks in the entire land, and it appears to be only a matter of time before Jai Courtney’s Eric and his goons catch up to them.
Meanwhile, Jeanine has her own reasons for wanting these Divergents rounded up and it has nothing to do with squashing a rebellion. Seems she has found something that Tris’ parents hid and it could hold the key to everyone’s collective future.
Insurgent is a visual marvel, a true trip. Woodley is becoming more and more of a movie star of the most classic of varieties. Her chemistry with James is downright electric. And its Oscar caliber (and winning) cast only adds weight to a story that is supremely powerful to begin with. Spencer and Watts are nice additions and we’re eager to see where they go in the final two films (based on the final book).
Divergent director Neil Burger did a wonderful job setting up this world in the first film. Helmer Robert Schwentke (RED) was a perfect choice to take over this more action-oriented second film in Roth’s series. The director gives it the epic feel it deserves and it's a sequel that delivers.
There are issues as this is not a perfect picture. Woodley’s Tris seems to be pushed back to a supporting character in her own story. James’ Four actually gets in most of the action (although Tris is a heavily involved participant) and has the opportunity to deliver some of the most rallying of lines. Even Miles Teller has a blast, way more than he should, and gets the spotlight in scenes where it seems it should be on Woodley. Then again, if you have an actor like Teller, why not share the spotlight?!
It is action-packed, that is for sure, our Insurgent review can report. We just wish there was a little more character development -- particularly with what Tris goes through in this middle chapter, as well as Watts and Spencer’s characters that we know will have a much bigger role in the third and fourth films.
See, that’s exactly it. Like most middle chapters -- Insurgent feels like it’s a stepping stone to something bigger. As long as you go in knowing that, you will not be disappointed in the least.