EMINE – ‘Insurgent’: Diverge, insurge and finally submerge?

‘Insurgent’: Diverge, insurge and finally submerge?andldquoDivergent,andrdquo the first in line of the screen adaptations of Veronica Rothand#39s young adult Divergent novel trilogy, might not have caused as a big a commotion as its more popular elder sister andldquoHunger Gamesandrdquo upon its initial international release, but there is indeed something rather endearing about this picture that somehow managed to create a strangely convincing and riveting dystopian atmosphere, all the while underlining simultaneously alluring yet senseless cliques, with its grand metaphor of a society divided into factions.The set-up is simple, maybe a little too much so: The war-torn city of Chicago harbors what is left of mankind and in order for the human race to continue to live in peace, society is divided into five distinct and unquestionable factions: Amity, representing the pacifist hippies who practice love and forgiveness Abnegation, for those who are selfless and devote themselves to public duty Candour, for the
neo-lawyers who uphold truth and honesty Erudite for the smart and intellectual and Dauntless, for the physically athletic and brave, who pose as a mini-police force.

And of course, there are the factionless, a group of marginals pushed to the city outer limits, left to rot and fend for themselves.The first filmand#39s main aim was to set up this universe for its lead character, Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley, a remarkably likable and accessible actress), whose family belonged to the Abnegation tribe, though she chose to join Dauntless during her initiation ceremony into adulthood.

Tris spent much of her time during the film training to transform into a modern decathlon athlete with Dauntless. She fell in love with group leader, Four (hunky Theo James), and discovered along the way that she might be a andldquodivergent,andrdquo a persona non grata with a genetic code indicating that she actually belongs to and excels in the aptitudes and skills of all five factions.

Imagine what would happen if she took the SAT test! However, self-appointed and power-hungry city leader, Jeanine, of the Erudite group (Kate Winslet, gleefully enjoying her villainous character), deemed Tris and all divergents a threat to society and wanted her eliminated.andldquoDivergentandrdquo was a mash-up of a sports film, a sci-fi and a teenage romance of the Nicholas Sparks andldquoNotebookandrdquo sort.

Its most notable element and contribution to teenagers of the planet was showing that a shy, insecure, kind girl can become anything she wants to in life if she puts her mind to it and refuses to succumb to peer pressure and predetermined social roles.In the trilogyand#39s second installment, andldquoInsurgent,andrdquo director Robert Schwentke (director of andldquoRedandrdquo and andldquoFlightplanandrdquo), along with established screenwriters Akiva Goldsman, Mark Bomback and Brian Duffield, try to up their game with more cutthroat dialogue, harrowing action sequences and an attempt to criticize the modern politics of today.

The problem is that though the film shines in most of the technical aspects and visual craftsmanship, it takes itself a bit too seriously, struggling to say something about class divides and tyranny and, as such, sabotages the lightheaded but distinctive universe it had previously established. Not to say that the upbeat tempo, tight editing and a darker and more adamant Tris character is not welcome, but the sheer joy and guilty pleasure of andldquoDivergentandrdquo is submerged in the heavy and philosophically didactic waters of andldquoInsurgent.

andrdquoThe plot once again follows Tris and her boyfriend, Four, as they try to assemble what remains of the Dauntless group in order to form an insurgency against Erudite Jeanine, who has wiped out the entire Abnegation tribe. The romantic couple first seek shelter in the farmlands of Amity and are helped by their reserved leader Johanna (Octavia Spencer), before falling into the hands of the factionless, led by tough-cookie poker-face Evelyn (Naomi Watts), who proposes an allegiance.

Along the way, they also encounter the Candour people, lead by Jack (Daniel Day Kim), who gives Tris a truth serum She confronts and reveals secrets she never wished to reveal. It turns out that Tris is going through a self-loathing period due to unfortunate events that happened to her family.

Meanwhile, Jeanine discovers a small box left by the founders of the city which apparently contains an important message to society. Only a Divergent can open that box, after passing five simulation tests designed for the five different factions — did you think that a young adult film could be made today without some form of gaming? Twists and turns ensue, and of course, Tris is the only one who can open the box.

But what will the message in the box say!?There are big questions and no fulfilling answers. Well, did you expect true satisfaction when thereand#39s still a third film in the making? And thus, andldquoInsurgent,andrdquo like most in-between sequels, suffers from its bridge-making status and hangs like a suspended structure whose main function is to connect as opposed to stand alone.

Yet, for its target audience and for those who like to succumb to a Hollywood action thriller with a sprinkle of sci-fi, andldquoInsurgentandrdquo remains an enjoyable and accessible film If only the side characters were better developed itand#39s a shame to watch such talented actors as Miles Teller, Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts and Ansel Elgort being underused. Luckily, girl-next-door Woodley rises to the occasion and manages to carry the whole film on her slight but strong soldiers.

If thereand#39s one thing that the Divergent series will stand out for, it is its firm stance of favoring the frail and thoughtful over the outwardly forceful and aggressive.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman