I have never read the Divergent series of books by Veronica Roth, but I have been told that the third book in the series, “Alliegiant” is very disappointing. After seeing Divergent the movie and now Insurgent, I think I can understand why. The premise in the first film had an intriguing premise. The world as we know had been reduced to the city of Chicago where all the residents were divided up into five factions: Abnegation, Amity, Dauntless, Candor and Erudite. The second movie, Insurgent, takes place right after Divergent and about 200 years after the formation of the five factions. The world people live in is a contrast of super high-tech and extreme poverty almost in the same space and a civil war is about to emerge. A giant massacre has occurred between on faction and another. Clearly, this way of doing business is not working.
This story begins with our heroes Tris (Shailene Woodley), Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Four (Theo James) and few others hiding in plain site within the boundaries of peace-loving Amity faction led by Johanna (Octavia Spencer). They are living in relative harmony but itching to get out. Understandably bitter due to the deaths of her parents, Tris becomes extremely edgy and frankly, unlikeable. The girl you were rooting for in the first film is now kinda annoying. Soon, the group is on the run due to when Jeanine (Kate Winslet), leader of the Erudites, discovers a mysterious box that only a Divergent can open. She doesn’t know what’s inside, but feels strongly that it holds the key to her happiness…or something. It’s just not clear what she hopes this big box will do for her. Knowing that Tris is at least partially Divergent in nature, Jeanine has her army hunt her down. However, not before Tris, Caleb and Four have a short visit with his mother, whom he told everyone was dead. She is a leader herself wanting peace, but Four doesn’t trust her.
Believe it or not, there isn’t much more to the story. A large portion of the film is dedicated to more high-tech special effects where Tris is once again put through enormous hurdles through a device that ushers in bad dreams and amazing fantasy landscapes. Somehow by going through these virtual nightmares, the mystery box will open up. How the two go together is never explained – you’re just supposed to go with it. And finally when the truth is revealed, it leaves you with another “is that all there is” moment.
Insurgent isn’t a bad movie. It should keep your attention the whole time, but it fails in the same way as the first story did. You see how this society doesn’t work, but you are never given a glimpse of what it should or could be. Some characters want to strip Jeanine of her power, but someone else wisely questions the wisdom as another horrid leader will just take her place. The other issue I had with the story was the change of character’s motives and actions from the first movie. One character goes from “good” to “bad” and back to “good” again by the time the film is over. Tris is harsh and bossy while Four, who was so tough in the first movie, is now just trying to keep the peace and avoid his mother.
The movie ends on a much better note that the first film, but the joy you feel is fleeting as you wonder, “Is that all there is?” It is like telling a morality play that has no moral to learn at the end. But the special effects are pretty neat though.