Sunday, March 22

Insurgent Review

Dir: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Theo James, Miles Teller, Jai Courtney, Octavia Spencer, Mikhi Phifer, and Kate Winslet

The second installment of the Veronica Roth young adult novel finds Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), a young woman with extraordinary abilities, on the run and charged for revenge. The dystopian world that she lives in is split into factions though she encompasses all the characteristics of each, which makes her dangerous to the ruling authority and defined as "Divergent". The first film setup an interesting premise that, in small amounts, delved into contrasting matters of social classifications. “Insurgent” finds new director Robert Schwentke, director of last years “RIPD”, focusing more on matters of action and typical revenge scenarios and less on the underlying subject matter that could make this franchise more substantial.

Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, Amity, and Candor, Tris Prior is not one of these but instead a Divergent. After the death of her father and mother Tris’ secret is out, though with the help of her friends in the faction she was hiding in, Dauntless, she is on the run and bound to avenge the deaths of the people she loved. Looking for help from other factions, Tris and Four (Theo James) discover secrets about their past and the truth behind the society they have grown up in. Though the ruling faction of Erudite has other plans for Tris, whom they believe is the key to dominating control for the future.

There are familiar themes seen here, comparisons to "The Hunger Games" and "The Giver" are unavoidable because much of the story and character compositions here seem pulled from those stories. Though these sorts of tales offer interesting subject matter to explore; future societies, dystopian outlooks, advanced technology, and the usual canyons of the human experience are all prime storytelling components. “Insurgent” brings Tris into conflict with herself, stuck in a world that both praises and shuns her unique categorization while also shouldering the consequences of her existence, one that brings about violence and death to her friends and family. The film does a decent job of conveying those feelings in the beginning but as the film moves forward her ambitions become one-dimensional, focused on revenge. This hurts the film because her character offers the greatest depth in the narrative; the remaining film has no place left to go except to tumble towards the conclusion. The flaws are especially noticeable when compared to the films mentioned before, where “The Hunger Games” and “The Giver” display a socioeconomic and political awareness, “Insurgent” never builds enough onto those themes.

The positive that “Insurgent” has going for it is an exceptional cast that lifts much of the familiar and mundane material far above what it actual is. Shailene Woodley brings some nice emotional touches to her transforming character, Miles Teller is an effective jerk in the few scenes he steals, and others like Kate Winslet and Naomi Watts are always a pleasant addition, though they are severely underutilized and are clearly stretching the material to its length during the scenes they are in.

Unfortunately the narrative is a clutter of scenes that seem to highlight the bright moments in the book without making something more coherently engaging out of the underlying content it proposes. Instead what we are left with is a film filled with great actors deprived of a story to tell.

Monte's Rating
2.50 out of 5.00  

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