Last year’s Divergent introduced us to Beatrice (later known as Tris) Prior (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) in a post-“war” Chicago split into factions which are organised around the different character traits of its citizens. You can read our Divergent review here. Still hot on the heels of the YA post-apocalyptic phenomena, Insurgent hits our screens as the much-anticipated part two in the Divergent trilogy based on the novels by Veronica Roth.
After being exposed as ‘Divergents’ Insurgent follows Tris and Four as they’re on the run from Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the cruel and power-hungry leader of the Eurudite faction. As troops under Jeanine’s command search the city for Divergents, Tris and Four try to find allies among the remaining factions and the faction-less. Battling PTSD and guilt over the deaths of friends and family, Tris has to confront near-impossible obstacles in order to learn the truth about her dystopian world and protect the ones she loves.
Insurgent had a choppy start, with the opening scenes being too short and their transitions lacking smooth editing. Although this was perhaps a stylistic choice in order to set-up Tris’ case of PTSD and night terrors, it made the audience restless and impatient. However, the unpolished beginning was quickly forgotten in lieu of arguably one of the best action sequences in the film. Tris, Four and Caleb, Tris’ brother (Ansel Elgort), are found out and an incredibly tense chase ensues through the surrounding forest, with Four making a dramatic leap in front of a high-speed cargo train to safety. Just when the audience thinks the protagonists are safe, they board the train straight into a hostile group of Factionless. Violent and unpredictable hand-to-hand combat follows.
Unfortunately, scenes like these were cushioned with unnecessary romance between Tris and Four. While this is undoubtedly one of the much-loved aspects of the trilogy to its YA audience, it did feel drawn out and tedious at times.
Having proven herself in Divergent as a tough heroine, Tris’ character in Insurgent seemed to have lost some of her edge. Similar to Katniss Everdeen’s transformation in the most recent Hunger Games film (Mockingjay Part One), Tris’ steeliness had been toned down a few notches. However, there were a number of intense scenes that were real testaments to Shailene Woodley‘s acting abilities, for example where Tris has been injected with truth serum and is trying to prevent herself from spilling any secrets, despite the fact that the more she resists, the more physical pain she endures. The spotlight is completely on Woodley here, and she pulls it off using minimal dialogue, while mostly using her body language and expressions. Incredible.
Finally, the undeniable star of the film has to be the visual effects. Florian Ballhaus (Director of Photography) and James Madigan (Visual Effect Supervisor) have done an absolutely breathtaking job of bringing Roth’s world of destruction and terror to the screen. The creativity and execution of the simulations Tris endures alone deserve an award.
Despite the overdone romance, Insurgent did Roth and her novel proud. We can only hope the same can be said of Allegiant Part One (yes, yet another two-parter), which is due for release in 2016.
Review Score: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Running Time: 119 minutes
Insurgent was released on March 19, 2015 and is now out in cinemas around Australia.