Insurgent, the second in the hugely popular series, picks up where Divergent left us. Tris and friends are on the run from Erudite’s slaughter of Abnegation, for which they have been blamed (naturally).

Meanwhile, fearing the fall of a smoothly running, two hundred year old civilization, Jeanine is on the hunt for the solution to Divergents.  Among the rubble that was once Tris’ home, a box that may contain the key—a message from the founders—is discovered.  Only there is one small catch; no one but a Divergent can open the box, and not all Divergent are created equal.

Tris and her party want revenge, but no one has a real plan.  This is thankfully pointed out, but never resolved.  Everything that happens to Tris only happens because of outside forces. Either Erudite is after her or the Factionless want to give her up. This saps away almost any power Tris has a main character and this is evident by Four (Theo James is much improved and far less wooden) holding Tris back when she wants to fight, making decisions for her,  and in truly annoying fantasy boyfriend behavior, arguing with other male characters about what she should do. 

Tris is doubted and underestimated by everyone around, including her support team.  Faced with Tris’ lack of dynamism I often found myself wondering What Would Katniss Do? Not that Katniss is perfect, but Katniss expresses more desire for control and agency, rather being acted upon.  When Tris finally does make a decision about how to proceed in during this prologue to civil war, most of the film is over.

Insurgent has many thrilling action sequences, thanks to Erudite’s pursuit of Tris and friction between the Factionless and the Divergent. Fights with guns, up close fights on trains, zip lining from roof tops, and simulated apartments engulfed in flame float in the air. The use of the society’s simulations allow for some truly spectacular sequences.

However, so little actually happens by way of story, Insurgent feels more like a televised mini-series than it does a full length feature film. The drama is about Tris, but it never really centers her until she decides to face Erudite. We learn a few secrets about the society Tris inhabits, but the ending feels like it should’ve hit mid-film.  Something about Insurgent feels empty and not fully realized. So much so that the double crosses, betrayals, and reveals just do not shock, nor does the end inspire curiosity. 

Hopefully, Resurgent will rally this series.

Maria Jackson
Review by Maria Jackson
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