Review: Insurgent

Insurgent

Colonel Walter E. Kurtz’s last words were: “The horror! The horror is Tris’s haircut!”

Thomas Jefferson – an owner of over six hundred slaves* – famously wrote: “…that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Until they are born. Then the caste system kicks in.

While the caste system has been officially outlawed in India, it is alive and functioning perfectly for two hundred years in the heavenly new civilization that sprang up from the decayed ruins of Chicago. A wall-in city, just like Old Jerusalem! Even today the holy city is divided into four quarters: The Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters. Jerusalem has been surrounded by walls for its defense since ancient times.

Today, are all want to live in a “gated-community”.

We have already been introduced to the caste system – called factions – in DIVERGENT: Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, Erudite, Candor and the dreaded Divergents. After a test, each member of the society is given a faction, which is dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue.

INSURGENT opens with Dauntless (transferred by Abnegation but really a Divergent) Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) on the run with her Dauntless (transferred by Abnegation) boyfriend Tobias “Four” Eaton (Theo James) from evil regime led the blue couture-wearing Erudite, Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet).

Jeannine is obsessed with a few scattered malcontents and demands her private Dauntless-bred soldiers find Tris, Tobias and their few companions.

Jeanine’s directive is that her soldiers to go to every faction looking for them. Tris, Tobias and two others have been given sanctuary at an Amity outpost where everyone smiles as they work hard in the fields. It’s a hippie commune led by Johanna (Octavia Spencer). Their escape is messy and stupid but they get away to a Candor faction led by Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim).

After the soldiers destroy the Amity compound as well as the classy Candor outpost, Tris and Tobias are captured by a band of the factionless – Chicago’s untouchables. It’s ruled over by Jeannine’s archrival and Tobias’s mom, Evelyn (Naomi Watts).

Evelyn abandoned Tobias when he was six years old. While she rose to her current position, Evelyn has not seen her son in decades and has done nothing to free him from his military career under the Erudites. Has she been the architect of his life behind the scenes? Why didn’t Evelyn claim him when he reached the age to be assigned a faction? All this needs to be fleshed out. How many of these mother-son conflicts can I live with?

Jeannine has a more complex reason for catching Divergents. The founders of the city put a hidden message in a box that requires five “sims” to release its message. Only Tris has the combined strength of all five factions to open the box.

To divert once again – as is usual with me – Ronda Rousey, the astonishing 28-year-old women’s UFC bantamweight champion, recently squashed talk of the prospect of her ever fighting a male opponent in a UFC octagon. Rousey currently boasts an 11-0 record in the sport having defeated Cat Zingano in just 14 seconds in her most recent contest on February 28. That rapid victory began theories about how the undefeated 135-pound division champion would fare against the opposite sex.

Well, when you see Tris taking on young, strong-armed men in INSURGENT, you will likely say such a match-up is a no brainer. Tris is so tough, she destroys all the men who come after her. She can take a punch. She can take a Doc Maarten boot to her face! She can fight off an armbar!

Now to that haircut. It completely distracted me. If Tris had said she didn’t want any hair-pulling in her combat fights, I might have gone along with a cropped look. But she wanted a change? Instead of giving herself a 1960 Jean Seberg BREATHLESS pixie, her hairdo is styled like a middle-aged female baseball coach. It’s a hairdo that will not become popular with female fans.

The charismatic force of Theo James is dumped here. Tris grabs him for sex and in their intimate scenes he is shot looking up at her. How did Tobias lose his sexual magnetism? He also lost all those muscles. Tobias became a lovesick puppy.

The IMAX screening I attended was blurry and some of the dialog very hard to hear.

I did like the “sims” special effects but was greatly disappointed in the way the film was directed by Robert Schwentke. Yes, the emphasis is on star Woodley, but giving James the role of her purse holder does no service to the series.

*Jefferson acquired most of the over six hundred slaves he owned during his life through the natural increase of enslaved families. He acquired approximately 175 slaves through inheritance: about 40 from the estate of his father,  Peter Jefferson, in 1764, and 135 from his father-in-law, John Wayles, in 1774. Jefferson purchased fewer than twenty slaves in his lifetime, in some cases to unite spouses and in others to satisfy labor needs at Monticello.

Jefferson sold more than 110 slaves in his lifetime, mainly for financial reasons. Seventy-one were sold from his Goochland and Bedford county plantations. During his lifetime, Jefferson freed two enslaved men.  At his death, Jefferson bequeathed freedom to five men in his will.

Member of Broadcast Film Critics Association: www.bfca.org/
Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at masauu@aol.com.

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