In Criticism of Insurgent – A Big Red Flag


Insurgent was the second instalment to the would-be four-movie franchise, based off of the second book from the Divergent trilogy of the same name. While Divergent seemed to strike gold with its perfect timing into the early 2010s YA dystopia and teenage romance craze, this year marks the tragic five year anniversary of the beginning of the end: the Insurgent movie.

While it is understandable to change and/or cut down a book’s plot when making an adaptation, the Insurgent movie failed to keep the integrity of its original source material, thus confusing and losing their most loyal fanbase. If that wasn’t enough, the incessant need to shoe-in a ‘chosen one’ trope onto protagonist Tris (played in the films by Shailene Woodley) and the sudden illogical change in world-building and tone from gritty dystopia to essentially a sci-fi was enough to disappoint movie fans, causing the film to be far less successful than its first instalment.

While Shailene Woodley can be credited for her unwavering talent throughout the franchise – especially during the gut-wrenching truth serum scene – it, unfortunately, felt like the rest of Insurgent falls apart around her. In fact, there are many talented faces on-screen (Kate Winslet is in this movie!) however this cannot save a film that made the bold as well as ill-judged decision to take the franchise in a new direction, one that feels cookie-cutter even for the time. While the book is by no means perfect, it was a fun yet political action-based book that kept you on your metaphorical toes – its movie counterpart just leaves you wondering if you bought the right film, or if its the cinematic version of American Horror Story in that its the same cast but completely new world.

Many like to brand the third and final movie Allegiant as the reason why the franchise was cut short, however, Insurgent was a big red flag. Maybe if Neil Burger had directed the entire franchise we would have seen a more grounded teen dystopia, and certainly one more consistent, but alas we are left with Robert Schwentke’s absurd, overboard vision, to which Insurgent was the first guilty party.

Check out the trailer for Insurgent below:


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2nd year English and Film minor student and Film Sub-Editor 2020/21. Loves the cinema, hates the people.

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