Insurgency That Was Destined To Fail


A friend of mine asked me: “Alam mo ba ano ung title ng movie after ng Divergent at Insurgent?

I said, “Ano?

His answer: “Detergent.


I just thought I’d share this very lame and annoying joke 'coz it's practically the only good thing to come out of this movie.

Okay, that was harsh. But it's sorta true. Insurgent manages to do more wrong than right.

Insurgent, the second installment of the Divergent trilogy (or quadrilogy? You never know these days!), continues the story of Tris Prior. The divergent, turned renegade, turned fugitive. Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her fellow divergent lover, Four (Theo James), plot against the tyrannical militant Erudite leader, Jeanine (Kate Winslet). Meanwhile, in turn, Jeanine seeks to eliminate the divergent problem using a mysterious box that only a divergent can open.

A weapon against divergents…that only a divergent can make work.

The very premise encompasses the flawed story logic Insurgent was bursting with. I did not love this movie. Let me elaborate. (Brace yourself, reklamos are coming.)

The Characters


A seemingly ordinary teenage girl, with a flair for defying authority or norms, becomes someone extraordinary and a savior of sorts - if that sounds like something you’ve heard before, well, it’s because you have. It’s the typecast for young adult female characters like Katniss Everdeen and Bella Swan. The only difference is: those two are infinitely more interesting…sorry, I take that back, Katniss is, at least.

In the first three quarters of the movie, Tris is essentially just there – following the lead of Four, being the annoying kind of “rebellious”. It’s only in the last quarter that she actually does something for herself to be somewhat significant. For someone who’s supposed to be the 100% divergent, she sure is less versatile than her male counterpart. Four exhibited more smarts, and compassion, and honesty than this clueless would-be savior.

The would-be whiney heroine, the next action hero, and the unbelievably apathetic brother.

There weren’t a lot of other characters in the movie to root for either. Four, while providing bulk of the progression in the narrative and could potentially be the next great action hero, still wasn’t all that interesting. Even his side story of his strained relationship with his mom (this guy just hates PARENTS, doesn’t he?) came off a bit whiney. Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Tris’ brother, was infuriatingly, and implausibly coy about his sister practically dying in front of her. Someone remove the stick up his butt.

Octavia Spencer, Jai Courtney, Mekhi Phifer, and Naomi Watts, I thought were underutilized potential. These big critically acclaimed actors weren’t allowed to do much in the screenplay. But then again, maybe they have more for them on the sequel.


The only barely interesting character here was Peter (Miles Teller), who’s ever changing allegiance and rascally flair, provided both comic relief and a genuine sense of threat. But even his side changing was done a tad abruptly; it’s hard not to feel irked.

I also liked Daniel Dae Kim as the Candor leader, Jack Kang…mainly ‘coz he rocked that white suit.

Can this guy rock a suit, or what?!

Story Logic

Like I said, this movie is RIDDLED with holes! Plot holes, that is! Needless to say, I will venture into some very spoiler-y territory here, so if you don’t want to know things, skip to the end…

Still there?


      The Mind Control

The Erudite army had the tech for mind control and they used it to force Tris’ comrades to commit suicide and in turn force Tris to surrender herself. MIND CONTROL. WHY ON EARTH DO YOU NEED TO GO THROUGH SUCH AN ELABORATE SCHEME? Why not just use it to capture Tris?? They already had an instant army in Tris’ vicinity, so whyyyy?

      The Bomb Bullets

The Erudite army attacked the Dauntless in Candor territory with bullets that can explode when removed. The Dauntless eventually retreated to Factionless territory, then for some reason, now even the factionless have the bomb on them. Weird.

      That stupid decision at the end

Near the end, when Four rescues Tris from the Erudite captivity, Tris decides to stay to unlock the box (that was supposedly going to rid the Divergent problem). With everything that was going on, you’d think that Tris’d be smart enough to just grab the box and unlock it elsewhere, where THERE ISN’T AN ARMY COMING AFTER HER.


And we now get to that ending.

It is finally revealed what the box contains, and to nobody’s surprise, it wasn’t the divergent killing weapon it was set up to be. (Obviously. Otherwise, Tris would have felt reeeeaaally stupid for opening it.) Instead it was revealed that the walled city was an experiment and that the emergence of divergents was proof that it was a success. (What the hypothesis of this experiment was is beyond me.) The box also declared that people from the pre-apocalyptic society were waiting for them beyond the walls.

That stupid box, with that stupid message.

What I find highly, highly, unbelievable is the fact that in the 2 centuries that they lived inside this city, no one ever thought of venturing outside a wall that was reachable by foot! Sure, they would have been led to believe that it was a wasteland, but SURELY someone would have thought about exploring, and seeing what they could salvage from the previous world. More to the point, they had tech for virtual simulations so real you could DIE from it, SURELY they would have at least had the tech to protect themselves from a hostile environment or had cameras that could scout outside the walls.

That may sound a bit nitpicky, but even without the weak logic, I still found the ending to be incredibly convenient, underwhelming and undeserved. Suddenly, out of nowhere, divergents are “liberated” by a force greater than their own – it almost feels like a deus ex machina. It was a payoff I did not find that satisfying.

I did not love this movie, but I didn’t absolutely HATE it. It had its moments, primarily when action and the sim (virtual simulation) are involved. The sim sequences had a lot of visual pizazz. I was especially thrilled with the flying, fiery building bit. The combination of CG and practical effects and choreography all made for an engrossing experience.

Insurgent will inevitably be compared to other young adult films, particularly Hunger Games, and it will undoubtedly fall far behind. It’s a movie without much depth and substantial character development, and will oftentimes require you to make huge leaps in logic. Inconsistent, implausible and bland, this Insurgent was destined for defeat.


* For a more detailed review, head over to The Philippine Online Chronicles!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this review. Now i do have the reason why not watch Insurgent.
    I believe this is complete since you've tackled the things that should be mentioned and be reviewed.

    ( to be honest not a fan of divergent-logy story )
    Looking forward for FnF7 review sooon.