Insurgent (2015) is directed by Robert Schwentke who has helmed projects as diverse as Red (2010) and The Time Travelers Wife (2009). Insurgent is the follow-up to Divergent (2014) that achieved a respectable $288m worldwide. The story picks up days after the attempt to use Dauntless to destroy the Abnegation faction. The Tris and Four duo (Shailene Woodley and Theo James) are hiding out with Amity trying to figure out their next move. In the meantime Kate Winslet’s character, Jeanine, has been hunting for a mysterious box which she finds and proceeds to track down all Divergents in the search for the one who can open the box and unveil its message.
My initial response to the opening of the movie was oh dear they’re remaking The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) with the militia hanging on to the side of almost identical trucks to those than ran rampant in District 12. Fortunately the story does go off in its own direction and takes on a much darker tone than Divergent that I welcome as it comes across as less of a kids movie. The film pushes the 12A classification with more violence and execution-style killings that happen outside the view of the camera.
The main strengths of the film are Tris’s story arc and the way the story resolves itself and sets up the next two films (yup your’re getting a part 1 and part 2). Tris spends the film dealing with the guilt and belief that she was responsible for the deaths of her mother, father and friends from Dauntless. She is plagued by nightmares and tortured by the guilt as she has to endure further drug-induced simulations which are used to good effect in Insurgent. The simulations and the film’s attempts to play with memories and what is real and what isn’t draw inevitable comparisons with Inception (2010) albeit nowhere near as sophisticated. The story behind the box and its true meaning deliver a positive final note and promise to open up the world we have seen to date.
Unfortunately the movie does have its problems. The biggest one is that it isn’t as good as The Hunger Games franchise. I put this down to the lack of character development outside the lead. With The Hunger Games you get Haymitch, President Snow and Effie, to name just three who have fully fleshed out characters and story arcs who add a richness to the world they inhabit. We can’t avoid the Miles Teller problem. His character Peter is really, really, really irritating and you want to punch him almost every time he is on screen. I think he was written to add levity to proceedings but it just jars with the rest of the action.
When this film works it is a solid 4 star effort but it is let down by underwritten supporting characters. I am looking forward to seeing how the story resolves itself but worry that the story will be stretched to create two more films. My rating 3/5.