Let’s get one thing clear at the outset: Placing the context here can be an issue if you’ve not watched the predecessor, Divergent (the movie). A faint idea of factionalism, the basic premise and point of every conflict in Insurgent, can come handy to follow this post-apocalyptic tale that rises from the ruins.
Power hungry Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is making a propaganda speech. Peace she says will come when she hunts down the Divergent (those who owe allegiance to more than one factions), who can help crack the strange box found in the home of an Abnegation (the selfless faction) couple.
That menacing straight face, not one hair out of place and spiffy look, makes Jeanine a leader you don’t want to mess with. Her torture tactics would ascertain if a Divergent can pass the tests that would eventually open the box to reveal contents Jeanine knows nothing about. We’re told it will ‘save humanity’. An oversold, convenient excuse?
When Jeanine’s guards reach the Amity colony (where the peaceful faction lives), fugitives Divergent Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James) and Abnegation brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) are forced to go on the run.
From there on, one entrapment to another, truth serums and simulations “sims”, some cheesy lines and skyscrapers full of CGI become the order of director Robert Schwentke’s canvas.
The filmmakers throw in inner demons for rebels Tris and Four to make up for the lack of plot twists, which could have made the tedious ride a wee bit enjoyable. Tris’ guilt for ‘killing’ her own parents keep coming back to her in flashbacks, which is a smart way to familiarise us with her personal conflict, that won’t die despite her being special. Four’s estranged mother showing up to boost the duo’s fight against Jeanine seem contrived, even though it does have some bearing on how they’d stop antagonist Jeanine from wreaking havoc.
While one ends up helplessly seeing shades of the Hunger Games’ basic premise, Insurgent tries too hard to make a mark. Woodley as the fiercely brave Tris and her oft-cheesy paramour James do pack a punch as they run from pillar to post (quite literally). Miles Teller as Peter, a friend with porous loyalties, offers subtle comic relief, but is forgettable on the whole. Winslet is a delight to watch, playing villain for the first time in her long and illustrious career.
Insurgent is not unbearable. A one-time watch (at least for the Divergent fans) may be the maximum you’d want to give for this one.