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Insurgent movie review

insurgent movie posterNot having read the Divergent series, I thought myself a great choice of reviewer for the movies — I am a clean slate, after all. And Divergent was fun. It had action, sacrifice, kickassery, feminine heroism, and Rose from Titanic. It had fighting and loving and tattoos and whooping and a very attractive, brooding male. I am a fan of all of these things. And so I was eager to see Insurgent (directed by Robert Schwentke; Summit, March 2015; PG-13). The only thing better than a teen heroine taking down the system in a dystopian future is more of a teen heroine taking down the system in a dystopian future, right?

And in many ways, this movie was just as much fun as the last. Things exploded. A lot. People betrayed and forgave, alliances were conceived and broken, families were created and destroyed. Shailene Woodley was just as bold and defiant a Tris as she was in Divergent. Theo James sexily brooded as Four. As Peter, Miles Teller won my heart with his bad-guy-sass. Mekhi Phifer totally rocked his role as “that guy” (aka Max). The visuals were gorgeous, the costuming perfect, the setting moody and beautiful. And things exploded.

There were a lot of explosions.

But I spent much of the 1 hr 59 minutes squinting at the screen, completely confused. You see, the last time I saw Tris and Four, they were riding into the sunset (and presumably beyond the fence) on the train. Yet, when I met them again in Insurgent, they were living on the most beautiful hippie commune that has existed in the history of ever. After the heroine’s obligatory hair shearing (which might have been less symbolic and more to do with Woodley’s recent role as a cancer patient in The Fault in Our Stars), we learn that Tris, Four, Peter, Caleb (Ansel Elgort, also from The Fault in Our Stars), and Four’s jerk dad are holed up with the Amity faction. Also, mean Dauntless dude Eric (Jai Courtney) found one of the stones from The Fifth Element hidden in Tris’s old Abnegation home.

insurgent message

stone exploding

Now, as stated above, I have not read the books. It is entirely possible that I simply do not have a working understanding of how the world of Divergent runs. But as far as I can tell from my movie viewing, Jeanine (played by Kate Winslet), the head of the Erudite faction, is a totalitarian ruler. The Erudite and Dauntless factions are clearly under her control and — judging by the Dauntless’s ability to enter Candor or Amity territory on Jeanine-based business — Candor and Amity are to some extent, too. Additionally, Jeanine is broadcasting propaganda all over the city, saying that renegade Dauntless led by Tris and Four are responsible for the murder of the Abnegation faction.

So how in the world are Tris and Four living inside the city on Amity land with Amity knowledge? And how are almost two hundred Dauntless hiding out in Candor? Tris and Four get from place to place by walking. Around the city. In daylight. The supposedly hidden Dauntless are literally hanging out on the sidewalk. WHAT IS GOING ON? ARE YOU AN ALL-POWERFUL RULER OR NOT, JEANINE? You can control people’s minds with simulations, kill at will, and invade any faction at any time but you can’t find two hundred tattooed, aggressive, whooping renegades on the sidewalk? GET IT TOGETHER.

Also, Amity and Candor, you can’t hide these people better? Candor was just like “Yeah, whatevs, no one will know you’re Dauntless ’cause we wear black too”? And Amity, I know y’all are pretty chill, but putting someone upstairs is not “hiding” them.

I also learned that the Factionless — who were definitely thin, poor, and homeless in the first movie — are actually more like street punks. They hang out on the train, pick fights with people, and have a giant subterranean warehouse home. And Factionless are not the same as Divergents: while Divergents test as more than one faction, the Factionless do not belong to any of the factions. Because, apparently, it is possible in this world to have absolutely no personality traits. Oh, and Divergents are magic. I don’t know why. No one told me. But they’re totally magical. They don’t respond to Jeanine’s chemical or mind-control manipulations, and they are the only people who can open the message from the founders. Because that’s what the stone from The Fifth Element is: a message from the founders.


No, no, no. They didn’t. I kid.

And then things exploded.

Was the plot cohesive and easy to understand? No. Did I enjoy watching it? Not really. But I don’t think that means it was bad. The acting was completely acceptable, there were surprises, the special effects were very cool… Maybe it was just one of those movies where you had to know the story.

…I’ll probably see the next one.

Siân Gaetano About Siân Gaetano

Siân Gaetano is assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc. Follow her on Twitter @KidLitChick.



  1. I haven’t read the books or seen the movies, but I’ll definitely read another review written by you, Sian. This was utterly delightful to read. 🙂

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