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Movie Night – 'Insurgent' good rental (Sept. 9, 2015 issue)

Is anyone tired of seeing teenagers attempting to save the day in a dystopian world where the young generation rise up to defeat the oppressive government? If your answer is yes, “Insurgent” is not the movie for you. “Insurgent” is the second installment in the “Divergent” series and continues the theme in a string of recent movies where the downtrodden youth must overcome their oppressors in a post-apocalyptic version of America.
“Insurgent” begins three days after the events in “Divergent,” but that’s hardly the beginning of the story. As is explained in the first film of the series, in a crumbling and decrepit version of the city of Chicago the last remaining members of society are divided into five different factions: abnegation, dauntless, candor, amity, and erudite. At age 16 each member of the society receives an injection of a serum designed to determine each person’s strength and guide them in choosing a faction.
Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), the central character of the series, tests as a divergent, someone who is well-suited to more than one faction. Tris chooses dauntless and becomes part of the faction that protects the city. Until dauntless is used by erudite to destroy abnegation in a plot to seize control of the government and the entire city. Tris, along with others from dauntless, rebels and goes on the run.
As “Insurgent” opens Tris, Four (Theo James), Caleb (Ansel Elgort), and Peter (Miles Teller) are in hiding in the amity faction. At the same time, Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the leader of erudite, has instructed the remaining members of dauntless to round up all of the divergents. The divergents are seen as threats to the faction system.
During the raid on abegnation Jeanine found a sacred box from the founders of the city who also created the faction system. This box, and the message trapped inside, can be opened only by a true divergent. You get only one guess about who can open the box.
If you haven’t seen the first movie in the series, don’t bother with “Insurgent.” Without the necessary background and context that you learn in “Divergent,” your thoughts will be wandering as aimlessly as the factionless do in the ruins of Chicago. If you want to watch “Insurgent,” viewing “Divergent” first is a must.
As all middle movies of a series do, “Insurgent” suffers from the fact that it is neither the beginning nor the end of the story. It feels like very little happens during the course of the movie. The ending, however, does pique your curiosity as to what will happen in the next installment of the series.
“Insurgent” is not a movie that focused on great acting performances, it’s mostly an action movie, but the actors do a good job. Miles Teller is very good at making you despise him, while you can’t help but pull for Shailene Woodley’s Tris. The only issue with the acting is a strange decision to cast Naomi Watts in a pivotal role. She seemed out of place in the post-apocalyptic world.
One thing that has never been properly explained in either movie is exactly why divergents are such a threat to the faction system. Some people are good at more than one thing? Big deal. I suppose the point is that society shuns those who are different, but there is no indication in either movie that divergents are dangerous simply by being divergent.
For fans of the series or the genre “Insurgent” is worth a rental OnDemand or on DVD or Blu Ray. But for the casual moviegoer, it’s probably not your best choice.
Grade: B
Rated PG-13 for intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements, and brief language.