By Alicia Glass, contributing writer
Studio: Summit Entertainment
MPAA Rating: PG 13
Director: Robert Schwentke
Review Rating: 7.5
Okay, a little background here, refresher course as it were, before we dive into the movie itself. Some two hundred years ago or so, something big bad and awful happened and the Founders built the walls and the Factions for the people living inside them to conform themselves to: Erudite, Dauntless, Candor, Abnegation and Amity. (And the Factionless, which evolved from the Faction system, but we visit them later.) Everyone goes through a test at the right age and gets plopped into whatever Faction they are the most suited for, except those called Divergents – the ones who can fit into more than one Faction. And that is where our heroine Tris finds herself, as a Divergent on the run, becoming the reluctant face of the revolution whether she likes it or not!
So here we are, out in the woods among the farmers of Amity, where Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Peter (Miles Teller) are hiding out on sufferance. After a perfectly fine lunch is ruined by Peter’s mouth and Tris’ reaction and the Amity folk do not take it well, Tris and her fellows find themselves being chased down by the guards sent by Jeanine (Kate Winslet). A confrontation (we have a lot of them in this movie) on a train leads our heroes to the Factionless, of course headed by a surprise mother figure, Natalie (Ashley Judd). The Factionless are spoiling to go off and fight the tyrant Jeanine by whatever means necessary, and Natalie wants to convince Tris and Four to ally what’s left of Dauntless with the Factionless, creating what could be considered an unstoppable army. But negotiations have barely started when there’s yet more mercenaries and killing, and it’s off to see if Tris and Four can wrangle up some surprising support from yet another Faction, Candor.
This is one of the best scenes in the entire movie. Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim) is a law mediator type of Candor, the most honest and law-abiding (and law-making for that matter) Faction. Kang is tough but very fair and adheres to his desire to get to the truth, no matter how painful, with all the conviction of a zealot. So when Tris and Four offer to endure the Candor Initiation Rite, which basically involves a truth serum and an interrogation in front of a jury, unexpected truths come to light amidst the sobbing. Four confesses his love for Tris, and poor unwanted catalyst Tris crushingly confesses to the guilt of the deaths of anyone close to her, whether she pulled the trigger or not. It is a finely crafted scene and well played by Dae Kim, James and Woodley in particular, evincing human vulnerability that is the result of the horrors of war.
By this point we’ve gotten at least some understanding of the ultimate plan of lady villain Jeanine – she has this magic box, see, that she swears is a message from the original Founders, but in the ultimate irony, only a Divergent can open it. So Jeanine began the campaign to round up every last Divergent and put them through the wringer; they have to pass every single Faction sim in order to open that box. Previous candidates weren’t Divergent enough apparently, and of course, Jeanine finds out that the best one for the job is inevitably, Tris herself. Jeanine demonstrates once again how little human life means to her in the grand scheme of things, a clear suicidal message of “come at me bro,” for Tris, but really, noone expected Tris to surrender herself to Jeanine directly. Then again, if we’ve been paying attention to Tris’ character in these movies at all, that’s hardly what could be considered surrender. What happens if Tris can’t open that box? Can we ever really trust Peter, the one who kept turning his coat so much he might as well take it off and be done with it? Will Four let his past or his love for Tris decide his own fate? And what really is outside those Founder-built walls?
Insurgent doesn’t answer all those questions, but the film does end on a satisfyingly freedom exodus note, and cleverly leaves things open for the next and last book-to-film trilogy from Veronica Roth, Allegiant.