Movie Review: “Insurgent” – Incredible

Written by Caitlin Cooper March 25, 2015

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“Divergent” was one of the most popular sci-fi films of 2014; people flocked to theatres to see a girl defy societal labels, and stand up to a person bent on controlling people. Its complex script and talented cast made the film a huge success, and made people want more. The film series is daring, has amazing action sequences, and plenty of emotional scenes to round it out. So, of course I had to see “Insurgent”.

In “Insurgent” Tris (Shailene Woodley) is in hiding from Jeanine (Kate Winslet) who has claimed Tris and her family and friends were the ones who attacked Abnegation. Tris and Four (Theo James) want to find the Dauntless that survived the attack so they can band together to end the faction system. Jeanine needs Tris to open a box the founders left for the factions because she thinks it’ll tell her how to eliminate all Divergents. When Jeanine begins attacking people to motivate Tris to turn herself in, Tris is forced to confront not only Jeanine, but also her greatest fears and the demons that have been haunting her since the events of “Divergent”.

“I know you’re angry, but you’re letting it consume you.”

The “Divergent” series tells us that people are never just one thing, and it’s wrong to try to force people into labels; people are much more complex than that. While “Insurgent” has that message as well, it also deals with many different themes like grief, PTSD, betrayal, lies, and forgiveness. Tris is in a darker place in this film because she’s lost her parents and she’s being hunted for standing up to Jeanine. She carries a lot of guilt over the people that have died, and her journey in this film is to once again stand up for everyone but also to forgive herself. I think her journey is the most beautiful and moving in “Insurgent”. While “Divergent” was about Tris trying to learn who she is, “Insurgent” is about her knowing exactly who she is and forgiving herself for her faults. People come together to fight for freedom from the faction system. Tris, in an effort to liberate everyone, wants to succeed in opening the founders’ box. What she goes through in order to stand up for people is astounding, but it shows us exactly how selfless and courageous she is.

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“Insurgent” does, however, have a lot of plot holes and inconsistencies. It feels like they were trying to fit a lot of material into the run time, and because of that details were left out. Tris mentions her mom a lot, but barely mentions her dad whom also died in “Divergent”; it feels like her dad is a forgotten character. Erudite shoots people with devices that implant themselves in your skin and attaches to an artery; the device can be used to control you and you’ll die if you try to remove it. Near the end of the film, Tori (Maggie Q) magically figures out how to remove it from everyone without anyone dying. They never tell us how this is done, so it feels like the threat wasn’t really a threat. Also, some characters aren’t consistent. There are multiple betrayals and all of them are weakly written. One character betrays Tris and Tobias, then ends up helping them later on. It’s like the writers couldn’t decide if he would be an antagonist or not. Another betrayal is jarring because in the previous film, the character chose to side with Tris, then in the beginning of “Insurgent” decides to abandon her and join those hunting her.

“You have to forgive yourself.”

Despite the weak parts of the script, “Insurgent” shines because it has such a good cast. Woodley showed in “Divergent” that she could lead a film with strength and vulnerability, and the same is true here. If it’s possible, her acting in “Insurgent” was even better. There’s a particularly emotional scene in which Tris is injected with truth serum to prove her innocence. She fights against revealing what she did to survive and all the guilt she has, but she finally admits everything she’s been going through. The scene was so well acted that I got teary-eyed. James plays Four with anger, desperation, and love. Winslet manages to play her character well so that while it’s clear the character is very misguided, she believes she knows what’s best for her people. Naomi Watts isn’t believable as Evelyn because she doesn’t look old enough to play an adult’s mom, but her character is interesting. Octavia Spencer and Daniel Dae Kim have minor but memorable roles.

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“Insurgent” is a dark, moving, and very action-packed film that deals with themes like social labels, grief, betrayal, and more. In some regards, it has a weaker script than “Divergent”, but there are many scenes that are so, so good. Shailene Woodley is an incredible actor, as is the rest of the cast. “Insurgent”, despite its faults, has made me eager for the final two films.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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