Don’t look now but I think Insurgent may have just out Hungered the Hunger Games.
“Insurgent” is the second film of the Divergent series, based on the young adult books of the same names. We are once again thrust into the world of our hero Tris whose inability to fit into the five defined factions of this dystopian future apparently means she is either the world’s biggest threat or it’s only savior. The story takes us through her continued journey as well as the expected themes of belonging, sacrifice, and revolution we’ve come to expect from the many adapted tween novels turned film that seem to be invading our multiplex. And maybe its just the amity faction coming out in me, but I actually think this series is kinda working right now. I mean it’s still has a lot of the annoying Young Adult Novel tells, but somehow I’m having an ok time.
Maybe it’s the lead acting. There’s no doubt that Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller’s careers are starting to surge, and for good reason. They can really act, and that’s on full display here. Not to mention Ansel Elgort who though he isn’t given a ton to do, still puts in a nice turn. I also really love the concepts here. The way the world works, the way the different factions are expanded on, and the hints about what lies ahead. It just felt like a competent movie with some solid effects and some interesting ideas and possibilities to explore. I found myself wanting to know more about why this world exists and how the society works and the film delivered on scratching that itch more often than not, and taking us further into the universe introduced to us in Divergent. Speaking of which, I can’t imagine watching this without having seen the first. This isn’t one of those jump in at any time stories, unless of course you enjoy being thoroughly confused.
.Yet, as much as I was enjoying this world, there’s plenty to be annoyed about as well. For one, I didn’t feel they mined the thematic depth that’s available in a story like this. There’s so much opportunity here for exploration of community and judgement, but it’s barely touched on and seemingly traded in for more chase scenes and schmaltzy love story. Which for me is the thorn in my shoe for these types of movies. They keep interrupting my somewhat interesting sci fi with this over the top soap opera melodrama. I get that it’s for the target audience, and honestly, I don’t mind a love story, but man, does everything have to be emoted with a quivering lip and a single tear? Of course even the sci fi had it’s issues with much of the tech in this movie seeming unexplained and awfully plot convenient.
Overall, “ Insurgent” is a solidly performed young adult adaptation. Sure it’s schmaltzy and takes some plot shortcuts, but the solid acting and interesting world once again make the end result better than you might think, just like the first. I say it exits this simulation with a B-.