Movie Review: Insurgent


After escaping the city, Tris must confront her inner demons while trying to find allies who will help her lead a revolution and save the rest of her kind.


Robert Schwentke, 2015

Tris (Shailene Woodley) spends most of Insurgent on the run. Having fled from her chosen faction, Dauntless, after they were forced to attack the selfless Abnegation faction by the evil Jeanine (Kate Winslet), she and her friends find shelter in the hippie-like Amity faction. But this refuge is to be short-lived, as they are soon hunted down by the Dauntless leaders who now work for Jeanine. Tris then travels from one faction to another in search of safety and allegiance in her plan to kill Jeanine. She’s supported at every step of the way by her boyfriend Four (Theo James), even as she faces heartache from others, including the cruel Peter (Miles Teller) and her wavering brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort). Her greatest heartache, however, might come from within, as Tris doubts herself even as she drives forward in her quest to kill Jeanine.


Okay, so I went to see Divergent, and while it wasn’t a great movie, it had its moments. Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller were strong in it, and there were a lot of great roles for women. It was muddled and derivative, but it did actually have a plot. So I decided to give Insurgent a shot. I cannot express how much I regret that decision. Insurgent was a boring, padded, nonsensical mess. Literally all the plot the movie actually covers could be covered in about 15 minutes. Essentially, this is the very episodic story of Tris and her three boyfriends, one of whom is loyal, one of whom wavers and ends up on their side, and the last of whom wavers and ends up on the other side. (They are actually her boyfriend, her bully, and her brother, but all three actors have played love interests to Shailene Woodley, which is endlessly entertaining to me). Tris goes to a faction, angsts about how everybody close to her dies, and is almost caught and runs away. Rinse, repeat, ad nauseum. Hell, they even do this for NO GOOD REASON in the finale. In addition to the plot being repetitive and pointless, how the factions work makes little to no sense, and this isn’t helped by mind-numbingly simplistic dialogue that sounds like it was written by a ten year old. While there continues to be decent representation among the leadership of future Chicago, Octavia Spencer and Daniel Dae Kim are given little to do in their roles other than spout meaningless garbage (and look fierce in long coats, DDK. Four for you, DDK).

I have to give MVP to Miles Teller, whose Peter was by far the most entertaining thing about the movie. Shailene Woodley just seemed kind of lost in this installment – she hits some of the right notes in more emotional scenes (particularly when acting opposite Ashley Judd as her mother), but the rest of the time she doesn’t know what to do with the angsty, fidgety Tris. Which makes sense, since hers is the least interesting story in the film. Theo James wins the Most Improved award – he was slightly better than a block of wood with abs and tats this time. You get the sense that his love interest genuinely cares about Tris, even if it never seems entirely reciprocated. Ansel Elgort is flat-out terrible, and everyone else looks bored to be there. I saw the film in 3D, which I am already predisposed to hate, but the conversion was poor, and it was also really dark and poorly shot in some places. There are some nice sweeping shots of the city (even if they never serve a purpose or go anywhere), but some character moments were so dimly lit I couldn’t actually see which characters were there. The whole thing plays as a cynical Hunger Games cash grab. The stakes seem high but that’s not backed up by any actual tension. Hold out for Mockingjay Part 2 instead.

Insurgent on IMDb


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