Insurgent is the latest instalment to The Divergent Series, the second of the trilogy. Thoroughly entertaining, this film covers all the futuristic action bases. But be warned: if you have not seen the first film, you may struggle to keep up with this one.
Following on from the earlier episode Divergent, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) have escaped from the city after foiling Jeanine’s (Kate Winslet) plan to have the members of the Abnegation faction killed. With them are Tris’s brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Four’s estranged father Marcus (Ray Stevenson) and Peter (Miles Teller), another member of the Dauntless faction. The five have taken refuge with the Amity faction, but struggle to settle in with their peaceful hosts.
The crew are in for worse struggles than fitting in, quickly the Dauntless army under instruction from Jeanine have arrived on a search and destroy mission. As they try to escape, Tris, Four and Caleb are betrayed by Peter. On the run, they encounter Candour and the Factionless – meeting Four’s estranged mother Evelyn (Naomi Watts) who is the leader of the Factionless rabble.
Jeanine has taken over leadership of all the faction’s with the support of her own faction of Erudite and control of the Dauntless. She is on a mission to open a box which contains a message from the original Founders, a box which can only be opened by passing five different sims. The sims represent the five qualities of the factions, the only people to possess all qualities are the Divergent. Obviously, it is Tris who is the key to opening the box as she is the most prominent of the Divergent. For the smartest of the smart, Jeanine seems to be none too switched on in assuming that the Divergent are a threat if they are the key to the special message. However, she is completely ruthless in her efforts to control the city and open the box.
There is a lot to like about this film, not least of which is the number of great female roles. The films, and presumably the books as well, offer plenty of powerful women, not all of them good. Amity, the Factionless and Erudite are all lead by women and there are plenty of other women who can display their various strengths. Combined with the questions the film raises of what qualities we value in humanity, and which take precedence, this makes for some pretty cool characters. Shailene Woodly is really solid as Tris, although she is sometimes outperformed by Theo James. She does, however, have great onscreen chemistry with Kate Winslet. Unfortunately there is not much of Naomi Watts, although closing scenes suggest there is more of her character to come in the next instalment. Zoë Kravitz and Maggie Q are also underutilised, especially after their efforts in the previous film. Nonetheless, these are great women to have on screen.
While Insurgent does feel a little like it is killing time for the next episode, it is a good film in its own right. This series is really likeable, possibly more so than The Hunger Games. This might be a big call, but it is worth putting the film to the test.
Insurgent is in Australian cinemas from 19 March through Entertainment One.