Sunday, March 22, 2015


The second installment in the "Divergent" series, directed by a new director, Robert Schwentke ("RED"), picks up after the conclusion of "Divergent."

Tris (Shailene Woodley, “The Descendants”) and Four (Theo James), as divergents, now hunted and on the run after the decimation of the Abgenation faction, concocted by the ruthless leader of Erudite, Jeanine (Kate Winslet).  They’re accompanied by Tris’ brother, Caleb (Ansel Elgort), and her frenemy, Peter (Miles Teller).  The latter brings some well-needed humor in the bleak story.

In a dystopian society that is divided into five factions based on virtues (Abgenation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless and Erudite), Jeanine sees Erudite as the fittest to take over the government and keep the peace.  Words have gotten out, however, that the coup was led by divergents, which make Tris and company fugitives.  They’re able to seek a sanctuary temporarily in Amity, until the land is swarmed by the Dauntless turncoats, loyal to Jeanine.

Caleb and Peter choose sides, although not without twists.  Tris and Four outrun armored tanks and gun fires and make a daring escape, hopping on a fast-moving freight train.  They run into Factionless and are forced into fierce hand-to-hand combats.  They finally end up in the Factionless headquarters and met by its leader, Evelyn (Naomi Watts, "The Impossible"), who has a history with Four. Whereas divergents are those who fit into more than one faction, factionless people are those who do not fit into any faction.  Four wants nothing to do with Evelyn (although it doesn’t last long) and traipses over to Candor to reunite with the rest of the Dauntless currently sheltered there.

Being known fugitives, Candor isn’t easily accepting and wish to turn Tris and Four over to the Council.  But when the truth serum is administered, deepest fears and painful truths are exposed and come to light.  It’s agonizing to see Tris’ suffering from the all-consuming loss, grief and guilt from losing her parents and best friend in the attack, her anger to avenge, and her dread that those who get close to her would die.

At Erudite, Jeanine shows a mystery box thought to contain message from the factions’ founders about the future of humans’ existence.  Divergents are not fitting into society and therefore she believes that they pose a threat and must be eradicated.  The irony is that the box can only be opened by a 'true' divergent, one that can pass all five factions’ tests.  And Tris, not surprisingly, is the chosen one.  Jeanine would stop at nothing to get her, including killing innocents.  Winslet and Woodley play out their characters’ antagonistic relationship well.

Tris, at her own volition, chooses to take the tests to end the killing. Each test is a potentially fatal simulation, testing how a divergent would take control or get out of a deadly situation using the dominant attribute of each faction.  

The simulations are surrealistically well-done. Characters and graphics are integrated seamlessly that while you’re intellectually aware they’re not real, they feel frighteningly real. Burning house floating over a city in ruin, skyscrapers crumble, people disintegrate into fragments, with Tris leaping, falling, running, tossing, tumbling, crushing, sliding and escaping – deciding which one is simulated and which one is real, trying to survive or save the ones she cares about.  The ultimate test is one where she has to face herself, accept what is, and leave the past behind.

“Insurgent” doesn’t delve much into the lives of the other characters that are part of the story or their connection to the main characters.  It moves fast from one action scene to another and the film feels cold as a whole.  But when the box finally opens and the message is delivered, it is indeed about the survival of mankind, except the message is not what has been propagated to the masses.  The storyline actually makes sense and that’s what helps the movie surge forward with hope and anticipation.

Humanity unites and “Insurgent” ends on a promising note of what’s to come in the horizon. “Allegiant: Part I” will be released in 2016.