Divergent: Insurgent (12A) Close-Up FIlm Review
Dir. Robert Schwentke, USA, 2015, 119 mins
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Naomi Watts and Kate Winslet
Insurgent is a high-octane film packed with equal measures of excitement and suspense as Tris (Shailene Woodley) must confront her inner demons, and along with Four (Theo James) continues to try and find allies among the other factions whilst evading Jeanine’s watchful eye in order to unlock the secrets of her society.
This time around it feels as if Insurgent has a lot more to play with. Set three days after the previous installment, the film begins very fast, being somewhat relentless throughout its two hour run-time as the world that was built in Divergent is being forcefully torn down. Really grappling with the books original material, this time around the film centers on a mysterious five-sided box that holds the key to the future of society, that Tris’ parents sacrificed their lives to protect. However there is one problem: only a truly powerful divergent can open it by passing the rigorous SIM test. As ever Jeanine (Kate Winslet) goes on the out-and-out war path in order to round up all divergents to see which one can open it, killing hundreds in the process.
Tris’ inner turmoil remains at the forefront of Insurgent, discussing her feelings of guilt surrounding her parent’s death that she believed she caused. This belief is not entirely unfounded as many characters within the film blame her for the current state of society. Therefore, the Tris we encounter in Insurgent is a little bit numb, not knowing exactly who she is or what she wants to be. Whether or not you agree with the many assessments of her character in the film, the film ties this in with another interesting discussion of authority, as efforts are focused on toppling Jeanine’s reign by killing her as her power knows no bounds.
Woodley’s unconventional acting style is impressive as she cries convincingly on cue in one of the film’s most gripping sequences. This, coupled with her new-cropped hairstyle, sets us up for a very powerful lesson in acting as we witness a complete transformation of her character in Divergent. With equally multifaceted performances from the fantastically annoying Miles Teller as Peter and Ansel Elgort as the forever-on-the-fence Caleb who both routinely switch sides throughout the film, Insurgent dissects a number of Tris’ relationships. Similarly Winslet’s sadistic pitch-perfect performance as Jeanine; and Courtney’s role as Eric the traitorous former Dauntless troops who is now under the command of Jeanine are equally entertaining as the pair mercilessly kill anyone who stands in their way.
The landscape of the film is captured beautifully through the film’s cinematography as the ruined landscape is vast and seemingly explored in its totality by the duo who seem constantly on the move. However, the film’s strengths really lie in the way it depicts Tris’ internal landscape as her repressed feelings come to the surface. It seems that a clear focus of the film was more eye-popping action scenes. Similarly, it is refreshing for the filmmakers to allow the central relationship to take a back seat in this outing, as it seems there was so much to do in so little time in terms of developing plot threads whilst giving new and old characters equal screen time. In terms of new characters we are introduced to three new characters (two of which can be seen in the first book but are not referenced in Divergent) named Uriah and Lyne, played by newcomer Keiynan Lonsdale and Rosa Salazar, with Naomi Watts as Evelyn, the mother of Four and leader of Factionless. The film also guest stars model Suki Waterhouse and Octavia Spencer as Marlene and Johanna.
In the film you also gain a better understanding of the faction system. However, added to this is sub-group named Factionless which means to be disenfranchised and without community. In many ways it also guarantees freedom.
One of the powers of Insurgent is in its ability to have concisely adapted a 544-page novel and Schwentke (Flightplan, The Time Traveler’s Wife and R.I.P.D) handles the task with conviction. It must be said that Insurgent sets itself up well for its two-part ending named Allegiant (part one due for release in 2016 and part two in 2017) as the film ends in a very dramatic fashion. Essentially, Insurgent contains a lot more trials to face by Tris, the biggest of which is herself as she searches for answers on all sides.
Review by Rayvenn Shaleigha D’Clark