To tell you the truth, I am very new to the whole Divergent series. All I remember is when the first one came out I asked a girl to it, but plans got in the way of everything. Ultimately though, I finally watched it on Blu-Ray and I was not enthralled by any means. The film, Divergent, itself felt more like a bad high school dramedy trying to be the next Hunger Games. The premise of the whole series is that there are 5 factions: Erudite (smart intellectuals), Dauntless (brave soldiers), Amity (peaceful farmers), Candor (honest people), and Abnegation (selfless government). If you haven’t seen the first one, I will summarize it for you.
The first film is about a girl, Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) who is of the Abnegation faction with her family. She and her brother both take a test to see which faction they belong in. Her brother, Caleb (Ansel Elgort), ends up in Erudite while Beatrice is a Divergent. She chooses to join Dauntless, led by the brutal Eric (Jai Courtney), and despite many setbacks, she ultimately succeeds, along with falling in love with the initiate instructor Four (Theo James). However, the Erudite faction’s leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) gets greedy and blames the Abnegation faction for violating all the principles of the nation, so they inject a serum into all the true dauntless people to conduct a purge of the Abnegation faction and take over the nation’s government. She fails when Beatrice (now Tris), who loses her parents (Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn) in matters of minutes, stops her by forcing her to deactivate the serum they injected into the Dauntless. This stops the genocide, for now, and Tris, Four, Caleb, and Peter (Miles Teller) ride off to find refuge as fugitives.
Well, in Insurgent, it starts off with the four being held refuge in Amity territory where they are living peaceful lives. Tris is having nightmares from all the events from the first film and is too violent for the Amity lifestyle. Eric, now the head of an Erudite/Dauntless traitor Alliance, is pillaging across the land with Dauntless soldiers to try to find Divergents within all the factions. Why? Jeanine found a box during the mass genocide of the Abnegation people inside Tris’s family’s house. The sole reason for the search is an attempt to find Divergents who are the only ones who can open the box. So when Eric and his soldiers arrive, Tris, Four, and Caleb board a train filled with Factionless people. Peter, on the other hand, snitches on them and then gets arrested for treason.
After a fight with the Factionless on the train, Four reveals his name, Tobias Eaton, to the Factionless (who was looking for him), and the three fugitives are given safe passage into Factionless territory. Who is the leader of the Factionless? Four’s mother, Evelyn (Naomi Watts), who wants to unify the Factionless and the Dauntless to create an unstoppable military force. After an angry and awkward visit at the dinner table, the three leave the Factionless to go to Candor. Caleb decides to go back to the Erudite as he has been indoctrinated to believe ‘Faction over Blood’. The Dauntless that didn’t follow Eric were hiding here. Tris is asked multiple questions, but she ultimately shys away from them. Then she and Four are arrested and brought to the leader of Candor, Jack Kang (Daniel Dae-Kim). Instead of being taken to trial over at Erudite territory, Four convinces Kang to hold the trial in Candor due to their forced honesty. Here, Four and Tris reveal everything that has happened and are spared, but not without Tris being looked horribly upon her peers, as she killed a popular Dauntless soldier Will during the first film. That night, Eric and his soldiers attack Candor to find more Divergents. In a Gestapo-like fashion, Eric begins killing anyone with even the slightest percentage of being a Divergent. But before he attempts to shoot a little girl who is one, Tris attacks him and is revealed to be 100% Divergent (aka what Jeanine exactly needs). While he is taking her, Four attacks Eric and arrests and then execute him, therefore making Four the new leader of the Dauntless faction.
Meanwhile, Peter (Miles Teller), actually adding much-needed comedy into this film through his snakelike personality, is given a chance to prove his worth to Jeanine, in which he has to reveal everything about Tris, which he willingly does. So Jeanine uses Tris’s Abnegation roots to make her feel guilty of suicides amongst the Dauntless (Eric and his soldiers shot a serum that puts them to sleep but ultimately could control them). Tris then turns herself in due to guilt and is arrested upon arrival into Erudite territory, where she agrees to work with Jeanine to open the box through numerous simulations (which make up the entire marketing campaign for this film), all which are supposed to help open the box.
Now I won’t go into too much detail of what happens after the SIMs as I am already spoiled too much, but the ending of this film is your run-of-the-mill individuality over everything message heavily featured in the first, but it helps that this film is more interesting than the first one, which mainly felt like a redundant high school movie (I give the first a C). This one is a slight improvement, but ultimately doesn’t lead to helping the Divergent series differentiate itself from the pack of the YA series being adapted into films today, most notably Twilight and The Hunger Games.
However, besides the predictability of Insurgent, the film has good performances from Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller, but everyone else, to me, was either really wooden like the first one or simply phoning it in. The directing here was no different from the first, but it does have more Man of Steel and Matrix-style slow motion sequences in the SIM, which get old after 5 minutes, which is pretty much for-hire directing by no other than Robert Schwentke (known for Flightplan, RED, and the disastrous R.I.P.D.). What I really liked, however, was the more synth-like score by The film, however, is still pretty entertaining and a little less tedious than the first. Also, it kinda closes off pretty well with a slightly satisfying ending, which makes me wonder: Why a third one?
Thanks to a different tone and a little more effort, Insurgent is a slight upgrade for the Divergent franchise.