The Hippo


May 31, 2020









Insurgent (PG-13)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

By Amy Diaz

Insurgent (PG-13)

The authoritarian dystopia government becomes ever more desperate to catch the troublemaking elements led by two teens in love in The Divergent Series: Insurgent, the second movie in what I guess will be a four-part movie series based on a three-part book series because that’s the law now.
Thanks, Harry Potter.
This movie picks up more or less where Divergent left off with Tris (Shailene Woodley), her love interest Four (Theo James), Tris’ brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and reluctant revolutionary Peter (Miles Teller) hiding out in Amity, the farmer faction in this divide-and-stay-conquered society. The other factions are Eurdites (the bossypants group which Caleb was a member of), Dauntless (the bad-ass group, which Tris, Four and Peter ran away from), Candor (the lawyer faction) and Abegnation (the civil servant class, in which Caleb, Tris and Four all grew up, mostly destroyed in the final act of the last movie). Tris is getting itchy hanging out with the peace-and-love farmer types and wants to get back into the city to kill Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the Eurdite leader who has now declared herself the ruler of all and put the rest of society under martial law. Dauntless has split into two groups, with one group still blindly following Jeanine and another group hiding out in Candor. The Jeanine-led Dauntless show up to Amity in search of Divergents — the name given to oddballs like Tris and Four who don’t fit in to any one faction and who Jeanine is convinced will destroy society/upset her rule, which in her mind is the same thing. Peter, more of an act-for-himself guy, tries to turn them in but Tris, Four and Caleb escape by hitching a ride back into the city. They run into a group of Factionless, people who are claimed by no faction and in the first movie are shown as homeless drifters. But here, they appear to be an underground army ready to bring down The Man.
They are led by Evelyn (Naomi Watts), Four’s mother, who was long thought dead by the other Abegnation people. Turns out, she just ran off when Four was 6 years old, leaving him to deal with his physically abusive father all by himself. So, Four’s not a fan. Nor, really, is Tris but she shares Evelyn’s interest in killing Jeanine. Eventually Four and Tris — but not Caleb, who sort of weenies off in his own direction — bring the Factionless and the rebel Dauntless together to plan an attack on the central authority. But then Jeanine figures out how to get Tris to turn herself in, hoping that Tris’ powerful Divergent nature will help her open a box that Jeanine thinks holds the secrets for wiping out all the Divergents. 
Or maybe it holds the one ring to lead them all. Or maybe it holds a color wheel, so this society where the factions are color-coded can learn a little something about mixing and matching the hues of its clothes. Forget Divergents, anyone with a multi-colored print has the power to spark revolution.
The amazing thing about The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is how, even though I didn’t particularly care about the overall mythology of Panem and its power structure and even though I didn’t believe in the love triangle between Jennifer Lawrence and the two lesser actors playing her potential beaus, I was pretty riveted. It shows that dodgy material really can be saved with prestige actors and some lively writing. 
Insurgent is no Mockingjay Part 1. Insurgent isn’t even as captivating as some of those late-series Harry Potter movies that felt mostly like filler. Insurgent feels as dull and blah as the shapeless burnt orange farmer clothes Tris wears while hiding out in Amity. Freed of the business of setting up the universe that is required in a first movie of a series, Insurgent doesn’t quite seem to know what to concentrate on in this movie — the romance between Tris and Four, the mounting revolution, Jeanine’s increasingly severe reaction, Tris’s emotional stuff (guilt over killing a character I didn’t really remember from the first movie plus guilt about how her parents died). But Shailene Woodley gives Tris one speed — nervous angst — so I never quite feel what it is her central, emotional motivation is, other than maybe some revenge that she hems and haws about. Theo James is an intense costar, but the movie doesn’t give him much to do other than provide some butt-kicking when required. 
Really left out of the loop are Ansel Elgort, whose performance could have just as easily been given by an Ansel Elgort poster, and Miles Teller, who the movie clearly wanted to use more. Teller is this movie’s Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson all rolled into one. He brings some genuine personality to his character and some energy to his scenes. He’s one of the few people who feels like a recognizable human, with self-interest and conflicting emotions.
Insurgent isn’t a complete failure — it moves the story along and adds new details to this strange world  — but it lacks the liveliness that would allow it to entertain on its own merits and offer much to those not already invested in the story. C
Rated by PG-13 for intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements and brief language. Directed by Robert Schwentke with a screenplay by Brian Duffield and Akiva Goldsman and Mark Bomback (from the novel by Veronica Roth), The Divergent Series: Insurgent is an hour and 59 minutes long and distributed by Summit Entertainment.

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu