Weekly Wednesday: “Insurgent” full of missed opportunities



Andrew Cooper/Lionsgate/TNS

Beca Livermont, Staff Writer

A popular trend among young adult movies involves spunky teenagers battling some sort of corrupt government in a post-apocalyptic world. The latest of this type of movie is the second movie adaptation of the “Divergent” book trilogy. The “Divergent” series, written by Veronica Roth, centers around Tris Prior, played by Shailene Woodley. Tris lives in a crumbling futuristic version of Chicago that has closed out the outside world and developed a faction system. The system divides everybody into different factions based on their personalities. Abnegations are selfless, Dauntless are brave, Erudites are intelligent, Amity are peaceful and Candors are honest. Once people are placed in their factions they not only live and work in their factions, but they lead their lives around it.

In the first installation of the series, after taking an aptitude test, Tris learns that she is a Divergent, fitting into no single faction alone. For one reason or another that is never fully disclosed, Divergents are seen as a threat to the faction system and society itself, and therefore are hunted and killed.

“Insurgent” picks up after Tris has narrowly escaped a battle against the Erudite leader Jeanine, played by Kate Winslet. Tris has lost both of her parents and has found shelter in the Amity faction with her brother, her boyfriend and several others. Tris is also suffering from PTSD after being forced to shoot her friend Will who was under mind control.

The movie, although by no means a box-office flop, did not quite hit the mark this time around. There were several unanswered questions and plot opportunities the film failed to seize. For example, if Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer is cast in a movie  it is safe to assume that she would be in more than five minutes of said movie. That, however, is not the case for “Insurgent”. Spencer is cast as the faction leader of Amity with the potential to be a great character, had her screen time not been cut short.

Another dropped ball in this movie is the relationship between Four, played by Theo James, and his estranged father. It is revealed in “Divergent” that Four, formerly known as Tobias, was abused at a young age by his father Marcus, played by Ray Stevenson. They then had a swift reunion and jumped on a train with the rest of Tris’ group and the movie ended. “Insurgent” spent more time focusing on Tris’ hair cut than it did on Four and Marcus’ relationship, which was a major miss as far as character development goes. In fact, as a character, Four himself is somewhat of a dropped ball all his own. In “Divergent” Four was a strong, intimidating leader with a soft side for Tris. In “Insurgent” he is a puppy following Tris around and beating up bad guys when the plot calls for it.

Another relationship it would have been nice to see delved into more is Tris and Caleb’s. It is not clear what type of relationship they had before they both left home in “Divergent” and it would have been interesting to see how exactly their brother-sister dynamic works.

Despite a lack of depth for any character other than Tris, “Insurgent” did have many great moments. It was jam-packed with amazing action shots, and the relationship between Tris and Four was heartwarming. Woodley’s character was spot on when it came to Tris’ anxiety attacks, as well has her violently angry moments. It is wonderful to see how far Tris has come from shy mousy Beatrice at the beginning of “Divergent” to fearless barrier-breaking Tris in “Insurgent”.

Hopefully the missing links in characters and relationships will not go unresolved in the third installation of the series, but overall “Insurgent” will be satisfying to any casual fans of “Divergent”, but probably not quite as satisfying to those who have read the books.