Saturday 15 August 2015

Film: Insurgent (2015)

The sequel to Divergent, reviewed here in February, this continues the series of films based on the trilogy by Veronica Roth. To quote from that review:

The setting is a post-apocalyptic world in which civilisation is maintained in Chicago, kept separate from the mysterious dangers of the rest of the world by an enormous fence. Within the city, the population is divided into five factions depending on their personal attributes: Erudite (the intellectuals); Dauntless (fighters and peacekeepers); Abnegation (who help others and run the government); Candor (who always tell the truth) and Amity (the peaceful; farmworkers etc). Which faction they belong to is determined when they reach adulthood by a psychological test. Those unable to belong to any of these are known as the Factionless, and live on the fringe of society, surviving by begging. The purpose of dividing society in this way was to achieve stability but, at the beginning of the story, Erudite is stirring up discontent with Abnegation's rule.

By the end of that film (spoiler warning, in case you haven't seen it) the heroine Tris (Shailene Woodley), who tested as a hated Divergent personality type with characteristics of all of the others, has been caught up in the coup staged by Jeanine, the leader of Erudite (Kate Winslet), but has escaped to a farming community at the outskirts of the city.

Insurgent starts a few days later, with Tris plotting with her boyfriend Four (Theo James) to overthrow and kill Jeanine in revenge for her parents who died in the coup. What follows is a series of running battles as Tris, Four and friends try to recruit support from Dauntless and the Factionless while Jeanine is trying to capture Tris for her own nefarious purposes.

As is usual with mid-trilogy films (although the movie version is following the now established practice, after Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, of splitting the final book into two films), Insurgent suffers from having no beginning. It does at least reach a provisional conclusion, while setting up the next instalment. I was not as impressed with this film as I was with the last one, with the one visual highlight being a virtual scene in which Tris fights to rescue her mother from a burning building which is flying over the city; I was reminded of the mid-air fight scene in Star Trek into Darkness, but if anything this one is better. However, there isn't much else to point to here which is new from the first film.

I note that while Divergent was critically well received, Insurgent has not been, despite a strong performance from Woodley. I didn't think it was as bad as most of the critics say and don't doubt that most viewers who enjoyed the first film will like this one, but I hope that the next instalment has more in the way of new content.

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