Film Review: Insurgent

by Sam Robinson

Rated M. Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James. Directed by Robert Schwentke.

Just one year after the first film in the Divergent franchise hit our screens, along waltzes Insurgent. And yes, it rhymes.

This is a very different film to the first. It’s darker, and mainly a fugitive flick. Tris (Woodley), her boyfriend Four (James) and a few other teens (two of which are played by actors who have played Woodley’s boyfriends in previous films… creepy) are on the run to escape the clutches of rough Eric (Jai Courtney) and the icy, quietly psychotic Jeanine (Kate Winslet). Tris is wanted due to her “divergent” nature, meaning she doesn’t fit in to the factioned society of the dystopian future, and is an independent thinker.

Insurgent picks up where the last film left off, so make sure you’re across the story before hitting the cinema. That said, Jeanine opens the film with a backstory monologue via hologram anyway. When Tris and Four aren’t running, Tris is left to deal with the fallout of what happened in Divergent, particularly the psychological damage of losing loved ones. She’s a wreck, haunted by nightmares, and this battle of the mind is far greater than her struggle against the authorities.

Insurgent suffers a great deal from being the middle part of a trilogy – although the final episode will be split into two films. The film loses a lot of the relationship development that really drove Divergent. Shailene Woodley is marvellous as always, and some of the virtual reality scenes are well designed – wait until you see a building shatter like glass – but the majority of the film was bland. I really enjoyed Divergent and wanted to be challenged by this, maybe even thrilled, but I found the whole experience rather vanilla. I’m sure that after the success of the first movie, this one is resting on laurels.

As I mentioned earlier, Insurgent is all about overcoming self. For Tris, this means dealing with herself. In the grief of loss, she is weighed down with guilt from her actions and decisions. She doesn’t know how to move forward and be free of the shame. But Tris eventually faces her demons in a scene near the end of the flick, which I won’t spoil.

‘No one will ever forgive you for what you’ve done!’

‘You’re wrong, because I will.’

I reckon we all have moments of regret and shame. We all wish we could change past decisions, we run through the ‘what ifs’ and we struggle to forgive ourselves. It gives me great joy to know that for those who trust in Jesus, forgiveness is guaranteed, and not only that, we can be free from guilt and shame. We can ask for forgiveness, and know that our past mistakes are nailed to the cross, and dealt with for good. As Paul quotes David in Romans 4:7-8 –

How joyful are those whose lawless acts are forgiven and whose sins are covered!

How joyful is the man the Lord will never charge with sin!

For Tris, she can finally find freedom when she forgives herself, yet for us, we can have true joy knowing that we are free from our sin, guilt and shame because Christ has taken that upon himself.

Insurgent lacks imagination and the many choreographed action scenes results in less character development and more clunky dialogue. I’ll still return to the Divergent franchise to see how things continue in part one of Allegiant next year. I’m giving Insurgent two-and-a-half stars.

Insurgent will be released in cinemas everywhere later this week.

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