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article imageReview: ‘Insurgent’ doesn’t stand alone, but it’s on solid ground Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Mar 19, 2015 in Entertainment
‘Insurgent’ is the second part in a trilogy that takes its characters on a new but somewhat familiar path in anticipation of a totally different course in the closing chapter.
There are certain themes films based on young adult novels have in common with the main one being the concept of a “chosen one.” The idea of being inherently and irreplaceably special is presented with rising frequency. No longer is success reliant on the efforts and importance of a group, but rather the sacrifices and triumphs of a single individual. This notion was hinted at in Divergent, though the protagonist was not the only one of her kind. In Insurgent, the whisper increases in volume until there’s no doubt the future of their civilisation rests on her shoulders alone.
The film resumes shortly after Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) interrupted Jeanine’s (Kate Winslet) rebellion. Now they, along with her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and fellow Dauntless Peter (Miles Teller), are hiding in Amity, a faction known for its benevolence. However Jeanine will not be deterred, recovering what she believes is the key to gaining full control of their world: a box that contains a message from their founders, which can only be unlocked by a Divergent. The hunt for Divergents is intensified and unrest spreads through the factions — and the faction-less. Meanwhile Tris struggles with the guilt of the deaths of her friends and family; the blame of which may cause her to take drastic measures (beyond cutting off all her hair) to put an end to the violence.
Though Tris is at the centre of both, the plots of the first two films in this series are quite different. The first film is a coming-of-age story in which Tris is away from home for the first time and discovering who she is beyond her parents’ walls. The core of the movie centres on her training at Dauntless and the friends she develops. In this sequel, Tris and Four are fugitives because of who and what they are, and now they need to decide what to do with that information. It also gives audiences a closer look at and better understanding of some of the factions not seen in the original, such as Amity and Candor.
The action in this picture is ramped up with more chases and fighting. The director’s chair passed to Robert Schwentke for this movie, who’s demonstrated an ability to maintain intensity while advancing a multifaceted storyline. Jeanine’s loyal Dauntless are openly pursuing Tris and other Divergents, so subtlety is no longer a priority as they patrol with tanks and raised guns. In the first act, a shootout leads to a separate hand-to-hand showdown; later, a raid delivers multiple results as the upper-hand is exchanged more than once. There are also several explosions and an extraordinary simulation involving a razed city, a flying building and an expanding fire.
It would be ill-advised that someone unfamiliar with the series begin with this picture as there is no efficient recap to explain the current predicament in which the characters find themselves. The film begins with a speech by Jeanine that is likely meant to serve this purpose, but even it is a little too cryptic to understand without prior knowledge. One can still enjoy the film, but they’d miss some of the more subtle plot points and connections.
All of the actors reprise their roles and Teller continues to be the most engaging member of the group. Peter is confident, sarcastic and displays the most personality in any situation. New additions to the cast include the heads of Amity, Candor and the faction-less, Octavia Spencer, Daniel Dae Kim and Naomi Watts respectively. They are all fine actors, but Spencer seems especially underutilized. Watts, on the other hand, will likely play a much larger role in the next segment.
Whereas most series deal with a single, overwhelming issue that evolves over its various chapters, this film suggests the next part will introduce audiences to a whole new world and presumably new problems. For those who haven’t read Veronica Roth’s trilogy on which the films are based, it will be interesting to see where this course leads.
Director: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Kate Winslet
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