The Pitt News

‘Insurgent’ an inexplicable, but entertaining dystopian sequel

Back to Article
Back to Article

‘Insurgent’ an inexplicable, but entertaining dystopian sequel

By Britnee Meiser / Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story


Directed by: Robert Schwentke

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Kate Winslet

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence, some sensuality, thematic elements and language

Grade: C+

Despite its all-star cast and ongoing action, the “Divergent” sequel ultimately can’t live up to its promising predecessor.

Director Robert Schwentke, best known for his 2010 action film “RED,” is in his element, considering that much of “Insurgent” finds Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) shooting people, running from people or facing off against the wicked dictator Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet). Jeanine wants to punish “Divergents,” or citizens who exhibit characteristics from multiple factions — divisions that organize citizens by their aptitudes and values. Unfortunately, much of the action is stilted or plain unbelievable. 

The dystopian trope of “unlikely girl finds inner strength and hot boyfriend to take down the government” is still at play, which is fine. Yet when that girl scales a floating, burning building and swings from cords thousands of feet in the air, it warrants a head scratch or two.

“Insurgent” picks up slightly after where the previous young-adult adaptation left off, and finds wanted Divergents Tris, Four, Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Peter (Miles Teller) hiding out in Amity, the peace-loving faction. The lovable Octavia Spencer makes an appearance as the leader of Amity, and, for five minutes, the world is calm.

It’s here that Woodley begins her performance as Tris the Tormented — a task that she pulls off fairly well. Woodley as Tris is still an unfavorable casting, but her performance is one of the film’s most engaging and poignant points. Tris blames herself for the deaths of people close to her, and her grief drives the plot during the second half of the movie. Unfortunately, the latter half of the movie is where the plot also loses momentum.

A large portion of the movie takes place in a simulation, which isn’t exactly the most riveting scenario in a dystopian universe. This is a questionable move by the writing team (Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman and Mark Bomback), since the simulations are a fairly minor part of the book. The upside? This sequence gives Teller more screen time, and his one-liners become the most entertaining part of “Insurgent.”

Winslet gives a disappointing performance as Jeanine Matthews. She stays rooted in the same spot for most of the film, focused on overseeing the factions, and it makes her seem tired and bored. The movie eventually introduces us to her equal in age and power, Factionless leader Evelyn (Naomi Watts), who seems more invested in her role.

There are many more Factionless members portrayed in this film than I initially thought existed, which brings up another unbelievable element — if there are so many members, and this city is completely enclosed by large walls, how do they remain unseen? Tris and Four are wanted “criminals,” and Jeanine’s rogue Dauntless forces are constantly on the hunt. How has Jeanine not discovered the Factionless headquarters yet?

These moments are better off ignored for the sake of enjoying the film, which, aside from the plot holes and the surface-level performances of some actors, can be an entertaining dystopian adaptation.

Leave a comment.

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper
‘Insurgent’ an inexplicable, but entertaining dystopian sequel