The Divergent Series: Insurgent Parent Review
This ponderous second outing filled with violence and short on storyline may leave even fans feeling a little disappointed.
Shailene Woodley shouldered the role of young adult heroine Tris Prior in the movie Divergent. But now her character looks a little battle weary. Her guilt over the deaths of her parents and a friend during an uprising, depicted in the first film, wears heavy on the divergent. She’s become almost as brooding and sober as her trainer/boyfriend Four (Theo James).
And maybe that’s what makes this script feel so labored. There aren’t any light moments in this futuristic, end-of-the-world teen tale.
In fairness, middle stories in any series can be challenging. Moviemakers have to give audiences enough substance and action to justify the cost of tickets and keep viewers on the hook for the next installment. However, in this era when book trilogies that hit the big screen are often drawn out into four films, the director can’t use up too much of the storyline in any single one. The result is lots of noise and the pretense of progress, but not much plot advancement or character development.
In this outing, Tris and the rest of the divergents are hiding wherever they can among the other factions. However Tris isn’t content to lay low for long. She vows to kill Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), the country’s totalitarian leader who wants to eradicate all of Tris’s kind and restore peace among the five remaining factions. And now the pervious unrest has sparked another revolution among the factionless members of the population—those who are forced to live on the edges of society.
Sound familiar? This dystopian theme is one we’ve seen over and over again in the past few years in films like The Hunger Games, The Giver and Ender’s Game. Insurgent even has massive fence surrounding the people and protecting them from unknown dangers on the outside like The Maze Runner.
Of course, as in those other films, there is only one individual special enough to save the entire society from destruction. In this case Tris fills that role. Yet she is so consumed with remorse that she can barely function at times. She personally takes on the responsibility of each new fatality—whether or not she could have control it. As a result, she increasingly sees herself as the cause of everyone’s trouble.
That’s a lot of culpability to assume for such a young person when death is so rampant. While Divergent had plenty of big scene skirmishes that resulted in massive numbers of casualties, the killings in this film are even more disturbing. Numerous characters, some with their hands tied behind their backs, are shot in the head at close range. The camera usually cuts away as the trigger is pulled, but the shock factor remains. Other violence includes frequent brutal fistfights, gunfire, bloody injuries and suicides. These incidents almost become more of a focus than the mission to overthrow the government.
As well, the script plays cheap tricks on the audience. Filmmakers can pull the dream sequence ruse once and get away with it. But when they do it time and time again, it begins to feel like emotional manipulation rather than good story telling. It also leaves viewers wondering who or what they can trust on screen.
Divergent made over $54 million on opening weekend and Insurgent is on track to better that, thanks to devoted followers of the book series by Veronica Roth. Still, this ponderous second outing filled with violence and short on storyline may leave even fans feeling a little disappointed.Directed by Robert Schwentke. Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort. Running time: 119 minutes. Theatrical release March 20, 2015. Updated May 18, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Divergent Series: Insurgent here.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent Parents Guide
Talk about the movie with your family… Why is Tris referred to as a “bleeding heart”? Why is her compassion considered to be a weakness rather than a strength to the faction that is in charge of the country? Are there times when her tendency to take on others’ problems impedes her ability to make good decisions? Why is she willing to sacrifice herself for others?
How does Tris’ feelings of guilt affect her? Why is it as important to forgive one’s self as it is to forgive others? Why can it be difficult to let go of old hurts, grudges or mistakes?
What kind of relationship does Four have with his mother? Why is he so leery of her intentions? Is he justified?
Tris is considered to be the only one who can save their society. Why is this theme of singular importance (that often borders on narcissism) so popular among teens, superheroes and even action figures like James Bond or Jason Bourne? Is there an innate desire in all humans to be unique or special? Why is Tris, along with some other characters, reluctant to take on their role as a savior?
What is the motivation for breaking society into different factions (or districts as in The Hunger Games)? Are there benefits for the individual groups or does only the government profit from the divisions? What forms of government are most likely to divide or predetermine an individual’s place in society?