Articles, Film Reviews

Insurgent (2015)

If you enjoyed Divergent, you will probably get a kick out of Insurgent. The same sort of equation applies if you felt the opposite way about the first film. Since I found Divergent to be an okay movie at best, Insurgent wasn’t far off. To me, this was a bummer because I thought that Divergent ended well and was taking the story to a fun, new direction. Instead, Insurgent almost seems to reverse the progression of the characters by forcing them back into the same chaos they endured the last time around. This is not to say that the film is a symmetrical copy of its predecessor. While there are some fun additions throughout, it seems to me that the true point of the film is to act as a delay for bigger and meatier plot developments saved for a future installment. In other words, Insurgent is a stepping-stone that could probably be ignored.

The film is the kind of sequel that I don’t think would make much sense to anyone who didn’t see its predecessor. It continues the adventures of heartthrob couple Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James), who are now in hiding after escaping the chaos of the five failing factions that make up the futuristic dystopian Chicago. That in and of itself is a tongue twister of a description that should give you some sort of indication of how this movie works. Of course the couple’s time in hiding doesn’t last long, as the government is on the hunt for them. Therefore, the two must maneuver their way through the various societal groups in pursuit of a way to save the people of their crumbling civilization.

The primary reason why I did not like this film is because of how it didn’t change up the formula or tip the dystopian genre on its head. Because it belongs to the overload of young adult dystopian films, it shares too many of the same themes seen in other recent (and slightly better) films such as The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner. If it weren’t for the fact that Insurgent belongs to this current genre trend, I would have probably enjoyed the film a little more. However, just like The Twilight Saga did for the monster movie genre, The Divergent Series exhausts the dystopian genre to the point where nothing is quite surprising or exciting. In fact, these films are so damper and desaturated in emotion that they lack in that entertaining quality it’s marketed upon.

There are strong qualities about Insurgent. There is no doubt about that. But as a whole, it fails because those qualities aren’t assembled well into the overall product. Woodley continues to show that she has the dynamic range required to headline a blockbuster film, but this time around her character seems to be pushed aside in favor of Four. Surprisingly, the film’s final 20 minutes were pretty entertaining and resolved my qualms. Though moments of predictability were present, I found that many of the film’s best qualities came to light during its action-heavy finale. It was especially good to see the talents of both Kate Winslet and Miles Teller have some room to breathe after otherwise being a bit more constrained.

Now two films in, The Divergent Series is as stagnate as ever. It’s a mediocre franchise that probably would have worked better as a television series with its elongated approach to plot progression. But with two more sequels are on their way, one can only hope that the future of this uninviting series is well worth the wait. If anything, it should at least follow the advice of the Amity faction and go with happiness.

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