Insurgent, the second segment in the Divergent trilogy (based on the novels by Veronica Roth), is actually not bad. It’s certainly no worse than the first film, which was passably entertaining, assuming you could get past the ridiculous premise, ie a future shock world where people are divided into social groups – Abnegation, Amity, Candour, Dauntless and Erudite – based on massively reductive character traits.
Those who fall through the cracks of this system, the “Factionless” and “Divergents”, can’t be neatly sorted into the above categories. They are considered a threat for reasons that really don’t hold up under scrutiny (something vague about humanity being dangerous and destructive if they aren’t sorted in this oddly OCD fashion). Anyway, the story picks up where the first left off, with our heroes Tris (Shailene Woodley), her boyfriend Four (Theo James), along with various others from the Dauntless faction, on the run from the forces of the villainous Jeanine (Kate Winslet). What follows is a lot of running, jumping and shooting. And some virtual reality. Oh, and some running, jumping and shooting within virtual reality.
In spite of obvious echoes of frankly better stories like The Hunger Games, Insurgent does have some very well staged action sequences, courtesy of director Robert Schwentke, who proves particularly adept at vertiginous set pieces. The leads are also appealing, particularly Woodley, and also Miles Teller (recently seen in Whiplash), who has a memorable supporting role.
There are even a few nods towards Roth’s Christian worldview, such as Candour’s refrain of “May the truth set you free”. I haven’t read the novels, so can’t judge whether the films are a good approximation of the source material, but on a moral/spiritual level at least, there are themes of sacrifice and certainly quite a lot of death and resurrection metaphors.
Ultimately though, the best thing about Insurgent is the running, jumping and shooting both in virtual and actual reality, despite the silliness of the premise.