The second film in The Divergent Series, Insurgent, takes place three days after the events of the first movie. Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) are now deemed fugitives and on the run from Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and her Erudite army, headed up by the particularly nasty Eric (Jai Courtney), former Dauntless leader. Tris and Four seek refuge in the other still-existing factions of Amity and Candor, eventually having to concede to working with the Factionless in order to try and defeat Jeanine (Kate Winslet). Tris continues to wrestle with her residual feelings of guilt and anger and must learn who she can and cannot trust in the confines of her post-apocalyptic world. Meanwhile, Jeanine is hell-bent on searching for the Divergent for her own means and will use all avenues possible to do so.
Die-hard fans of the book series could possibly be a little upset with this instalment of the dystopian franchise and will be very quick to point out the discrepancies in storyline from the novel. Although it moves along the same general path, and some scenes are directly replicated, quite a lot of the narrative is changed to speed up the action and give some characters more prominence.
Surprisingly, the second movie actually outshines the first, giving a more action-packed, emotionally driven and intriguing storyline. The simulations and nightmares that Tris endures leave the audience constantly guessing as to what is reality and what is not, making it more of a rollercoaster event than Divergent. The simulations are always brought back into the reality in a streamlined way, dodging the confusion sometimes caused by this plot technique.
Insurgent also adds in a little humour to the proceedings, mostly provided by Peter (Miles Teller), which was something that was missing from the book and first film. Director Robert Schwentke (Flightplan, The Time Traveler’s Wife, RED) is to be applauded in the path he has taken and the risks seem to have paid off. Hopefully, this will be enough to be forgiven by the book’s fans for straying from the literary path.
Some of the casting picks are just as intriguing as the storyline changes, with a couple of surprising additions in the form of Octavia Spencer as Johanna and Naomi Watts as Evelyn. The former succeeds in creating the leader of Amity, in her strength and determination, whereas the latter seems an odd fit, not quite seeming old enough or hardened enough to portray the Factionless leader. And although the casting of another movie should be easy to put aside, Ansel Elgort as Tris’ brother Caleb now seems awkward, given the strong on (and off) screen chemistry he and Woodley shared as young lovers in The Fault in Our Stars. Having said that, Woodley and James continue to hold the romantic attention on screen. Kate Winslet also deserves applause for honing her portrayal of Jeanine from the first film, making her nonchalant craziness rather disturbing and fascinating to watch.
The film does have a few failings, mostly in some ill-conceived plot turns, such as when the Dauntless army simply give up tracking Tris after she boards a train, even though trains can only go within the former city of Chicago and apparently also run to a timetable. Some of the Erudite technology created to fit the timeframes of the movie are also rather obvious, like the very quick scanner that can not only detect Divergent, but analyse to what percentage the Divergent runs through them, saving many precious minutes of screentime.
Going beyond these discrepancies, Insurgent is a thrilling second instalment, leaving the audience guessing as to how the saga will continue into the third and fourth film (the final book being split in two) and how it will all end for Tris and Four.
THE REEL SCORE: 7/10