Movie Review: Action Soars In “Insurgent”

Photos: Lionsgate

Unlike the first film in the “Divergent” series, “Insurgent” immediately dives into the action; delivering non-stop train chases and fight sequences, making for a satisfying futuristic adventure. Robert Schwentke (RED) successfully took the reins as director for the second installment, bringing his talented creative behind-the-scenes team along with him. And while many action thrillers tend to sacrifice memorable performances for explosive effects, “Insurgent” gives a nice even dose of impressive acting and rousing visuals.

In 2014, film audiences met the latest heroine adapted from the best-selling book series. Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) lives in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, now home to the only known surviving humans in the world. Each citizen belongs to a specific community according to their personality traits. These segregated groups are called factions: “Dauntless” for the brave, “Candor” for the honest, “Erudite” for the studious, “Abnegation” for the giving and “Amity” for the peaceful people. At a certain age each person must make a commitment to one faction. But making a choice proved to be a challenge for Tris Prior. Something makes her special and different from the rest. She is “Divergent.” Tris fits into all factions. After leaving Abnegation, Tris struggles to fit in and fights for her life through vigorous physical training to become a Dauntless soldier. Along the way she meets Four (Theo James), another wallflower amidst the factions.

Meanwhile, Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the power-hungry leader of Erudite, is determined to destroy the Abnegation faction. With a controlling serum, Jeanine orders the Dauntless warriors to execute the Abnegation citizens. Not affected by the serum, Tris and Four escape to save Tris’ family and friends. After blood spills over the city, Tris and Four must escape and seek sanctuary from Jeanine’s wrath.

Five days after they have escaped, Tris discovers that her parents sacrificed their lives to protect a secret that could change their world forever. As Jeanine and her violent troops search for Tris, Four and her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), join forces with an army of supporters to overturn the Erudite authority.

Shailene Woodley once again proves that she is a multi-faceted actress with the range and depth that she brings to the character of Tris. She is able to evoke emotion, while also maintaining the strength and likability of an action hero. The chemistry between Woodley and Theo James (Four) has grown significantly from the first film. Together on-screen, they make for two convincing young lovers. Kate Winslet is back as the ice queen villain and Naomi Watts stops in to play Four’s rebellious mother. Just coming off of his dramatic starring role in the Oscar-nominated “Whiplash,” Miles Teller is fantastic comic-relief as the obnoxious Peter.

“Insurgent” is best seen in 3D or IMAX 3D so as to truly experience the special effects and elaborate stunts. The carefully choreographed fight scenes keep you on the edge of your seat. But perhaps one of the best aspects of the film are the SIM scenes, in which Tris is simulated into an alternate universe, where she must battle obstacles, such as burning buildings soaring through the air. It’s truly captivating. Alan Hook’s art direction is equally stunning. Sweeping shots weave the audience through the dystopian set of rundown skyscrapers and burned bridges.

Although fans of Veronica Roth’s book series will be running to the theaters this weekend, both “Divergent and “Insurgent” stand-alone as entertaining films, whether you have read the books or not. I highly recommend escaping into the world of “Insurgent” this weekend.

By Pamela Price

Running Time: 119 Minutes

Rated PG-13 for intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements and brief language

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