MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Insurgent’ Is A Complete Disaster


Film: Insurgent
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James
Directed by: Robert Schwentke

Coming off a film that seemed to exist solely for the purpose of setting up its sequel(s), Insurgent offers more of the same mediocrity the Divergent series has become synonymous with over the last year. It’s neither better nor worse than its predecessor. It simply is, and that is far from enough to hold viewer’s interest.

Picking up sometime after the events of the first film, Insurgent opens to find Tris, Four, and the others who fled the city taking shelter in the quiet community of Amity. It’s a safe place, at least for the time being, but it’s not the final destination for our leads. Their work to free the city and all its inhabitants from the rule of Jeanine is still very much in progress, but when we arrive on scene our heroes are waiting for the perfect time to strike.

Jeanine, having recovered from the assault on Erudite, is still in control of whatever this film series calls the remains of Chicago. She has also come in possession of a time capsule left behind by the city’s founders, which is believed to contain an important message for all of modern society. Jeanine thinks the box will reveal divergents are just as bad as she always claimed, but she is not certain that is what the box contains. All she knows for sure is that it must be opened, and in order to do that she will have to find a divergent capable of overcoming the challenges set up to protect the box and its contents from falling into the wrong hands.

All of this serves to set up a story with a lot of potential, but as soon as this information is given to audiences it’s quickly buried under a wave of mediocre acting, horrific CGI, and a script so empty it makes even the most talented people on screen look like drama school rejects. Let’s also not forget the relationship between Tris and Four, which eats up far more screen time than it deserves and serves almost no purpose in relation to moving the plot forward. There is no question whether or not these two love each other, but several times throughout the film everything grinds to a halt so they can share an entirely unnecessary moment of intimacy. This isn’t exactly a new problem for films based on books taken from the cross-section of young adult and fantasy, but the fact they’re somewhat common is no excuse for the creators of this series to not strive for better results.

I enjoyed Divergent. It wasn’t the greatest film I had ever seen, but it was a far better opening chapter than Twilight or The Hunger Games. In fact, for a few months last year I thought there was a very real possibility Katniss Everdeen would take a back seat to our culture’s love of Tris and Four, but it is clear now that will probably never happen. While this series is built upon genuinely interesting concepts and ideas, it’s executed in such a way that it plays like science fiction made for people who don’t like science fiction by people who probably hate science fiction. The concepts are big, but they lack depth, and due to the obnoxious amount of time spent reinforcing the idea that our leads love one another there is very little effort made to expand the universe until the very end of the film. It’s lazy, empty, and horribly underwhelming storytelling littered with bad teen romance cliches and even worse action.

The biggest crime of all may be the look of Insurgent. For a story set in a distant future where almost nothing looks the way it does today you would think filmmakers would do their best to put extra effort into making their universe feel as real as possible. The people behind Insurgent may have had good intentions, but from the moment the first group of literally all-black CGI birds flies across the screen in the opening moments of the film it’s clear someone dropped the computer-generated ball in terms of execution. There are several blurry backgrounds and poorly rendered landscapes to witness throughout the film, and they’re only made more laughable when compared to the look and feel of multiple unbelievable dream worlds Tris is forced to venture through while trying to unlock the founder’s message. None of it ever feels real, and that makes it incredibly hard to care about anything that happens on screen.

I was holding out hope that Insurgent would be the savior teen films have been needing, but instead it’s yet another adaptation that could have been infinitely better than the film audiences have been given. Aside from continuing to tell a story that was told far better in its predecessor, Insurgent offers next to nothing new or exciting to keep audiences interested in the continuation of the Divergent series. It’s a complete and total misfire, saved only by the fact it’s the middle chapter in a trilogy that will almost surely be completed within a year’s time.

Due to that — it doesn’t really matter what people think, as long as they pay for a ticket up front. I paid for this mess, but you don’t have to follow my lead. See literally anything else playing right now, aside from Get Hard, and you will almost certainly have a better time than if you saw this film. In fact, just forget the Divergent series even exists. You don’t need it, and if you knew how poorly it was made you wouldn’t be interested in giving it a chance. Just move on.


Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Tris Prior

    That is probably the worst review I have ever heard about Insurgent ever! To those people who loved Divergent, I’m sure they will love Insurgent too. If you read the books, you understand the movie more, but don’t get irritated because the movie is different. Ii is a movie, and of course there will be minor and major differences. I say just go and watch it if you are a fan and ignore what this disrespectful person said!

  • I agree. This movie was a disaster. Insurgent takes no time to reacquaint the audience with its lead
    characters, or the dystopian world they live in. So unless you’re a fan
    of the books, or still have the memory of last year’s film fresh in your
    mind, nothing in this production will make any sense. You’re sort of
    dumped back into this world, and given very little time to get your

  • Asavari Honavar

    I agree with Stewart, this movie sucks… I had such high hopes from this sequel. The screenplay is very shoddy and this movie just does not have the nous that the first one had. very disappointing.

  • Divergent Fan

    No!!!! You are wrong! This review sucks! This is the greates series! I admit that Insurgent didn’t really follow the book all that well, but it still inspired me. I loved Divergent because we got to fall in love with the characters. I also didn’t notice any blury scenes, and you should definately NOT forget this series. I hope at least Allegiant will be as good.

  • SLS

    I wholeheartedly agree with you! The movie was fine. Why read any reviewer who s incapable of giving a review without giving a play by play synopsis like a junior high book report? Insurgent is worthy of 3 out of 5 points.