Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Insurgent’ Review: Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James & Kate Winslet

In a sea of several Young Adult dystopian future novels turned movies is Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. Not quite as powerful or emotionally raw as Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series, but more on the same level as James Dashner’s The Maze Runner, the Divergent series is about a young woman who is learning how to survive and protect others like her even after she’s lost and suffered endlessly.

Set in post-apocalyptic Chicago, Insurgent picks up right where Divergent ends. Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) and her boyfriend Four (Theo James) have just escaped the city after they’ve learned that Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and the rest of her faction is hunting Divergents. Jeanine believes Divergents are a threat to the system since they don’t fit into a single faction therefore they are uncontrollable. Tris, Four, Tris’ brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Dauntless member Peter (Miles Teller) are taken in by Amity and its leader Johanna (Octavia Spencer) for the time being.

When it’s no longer safe for them at Amity, Tris and Four, along with other Dauntless members team up with factionless leader Evelyn (Naomi Watts) in order to take down Jeanine and stop her from killing other Divergents. Tris has lost both her parents, and her brother Caleb is torn between helping Tris and returning back to Erudite. The beginning of the rebellion is resting on Tris’ shoulders while she searches for allies to fight Jeanine and develop the future of her new world.

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Director Neil Burger doesn’t return for the sequel and the direction is handed over to Robert Schwentke (2010’s Red) who does handle the material considerably well for viewers who have read the book and those who haven’t. There are more action scenes to play around with in Insurgent, especially since Tris and Four are battling with Erudite and ex-Dauntless leader Eric (Jai Courtney). Shailene Woodley also gets her fair share of shooting guns and fighting like crazy while under the simulation.

Shailene Woodley reprises her role as Tris as if she never left the character and the young actress carries the plot line as we see her pain from losing her parents to her vengeance in stopping Jeanine. It’s impossible to see any other actress in this lead role, though her long gorgeous blond locks from the first film were missed.

Kate Winslet is welcomed back with a bigger and more vital role here as the stone cold Jeanine. She has the evil stare, side-eye and pretentious smirk down perfectly; all qualities I pictured Jeanine to have while reading the book. Also to mention that her electric blue wardrobe is extremely fierce and cool. Though Winslet has more on screen time in Insurgent than she did in Divergent, the screenplay didn’t allow for her to do as much. She was literally standing in a single room during all of her scenes staring at the simulation screens. Insurgent is the book in the trilogy that really get to explore Jeanine and the movie could’ve done better for the actress.


Theo James, Miles Teller, Zoe Kravitz and Maggie Q also reprise their roles as Dauntless members and Ashley Judd returns as Tris’ mom in her dream sequences, while the sequel brings on Naomi Watts as Evelyn, the leader of the factionless and Octavia Spencer as Johanna, the leader in Amity. Both of which I am hoping they will explore more in the next two films.

The CGI looks exceptional when buildings are deteriorating and people fade into a million little pixels in the simulation, but when it comes to CGI Tris part of it comes off a bit cheesy. In the scene where Tris is in the simulation and leaps forward to tackle Jeanine, it looked fake and way too computerized. The slow motion didn’t help either.

Insurgent is a bit of a jumbled story to tell and it’s not quite as concise or as good as Divergent, but it does make for a fine in between movie of the franchise. Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet gives memorable performances and fans of the book will walk away feeling satisfied and eager for the next film.

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