Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 2.5
MTRCB rating: PG 13
CINEMA rating: V14
In the dystopian society of post-war Chicago, society is divided into five factions according to their most dominant personality trait and are tasked to uphold a specific quality: Dauntless for bravery, Erudite for knowledge, Candor for truth, Amity for peace and Abnegation for selflessness. Those who belong to more than one faction are called Divergents and are considered a threat to human existence. Tris Prior (Woodley), former Abnegation and trained in Dauntless was discovered to be a divergent in the previous movie while ambitious Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews (Winslet) spearheaded the attack on the entire Abnegation faction in order to gain control of the system. Insurgent begins where Divergent ends. We see the surviving Abnegation and Dauntless members hiding in Amity and Candor as Jeanine hunts down remaining Divergents in order to unlock a box that supposedly contains data from the city's founders and eventually end the Divergent problem. Meanwhile, Tris, Four (James) and the remaining Dauntless seek refuge with the Factionless whose leader, Evelyn Eaton (Watts), is also Four's mother who wishes to join forces and overthrow Jeanine and the entire faction system.
One needs to be familiar with the series to be able to appreciate the film. But even with its literary counterpart to provide the needed depth and texture, it is difficult to sympathize with them as they barely transcend the cardboard like characters. The sets and production design are able to give layers in the characters more than the performances and dialogues. The storyline is a little more cohesive but still fails to deliver a convincing argument about the faction system and the divergent and why and how it works. As an action film, the movie delivers breathtaking chase scenes and dazzling visual effects. But scrap all of these off the plate, you are left with a very thin plot that forces audience to believe the protagonist has valid issues to overcome and the antagonist is a real threat to the world. Even the concept of simulation, serums and making a single choice to define one's person is a little weak (both in the film and in the novel). On the technical side, the production design and scoring successfully interprets Roth’s idea of faction system and action events.
Does the greater good justify trampling over the rights and humanity of the few? We have heard this line from leaders who sought to rationalize their violence and cruelty. And we always hear this as an excuse for the so many inconveniences we suffer everyday. Jeanine Matthews' defends her decision to slaughter an entire faction or force a group to kill each other or jump to their death for in order to ensure that society remains intact. So did one dictator when he had opposition leaders rounded up and incarcerated. So did Caiaphas when he insisted on having Pilate crucify Jesus. But whose good are they really referring to? We have to examine our choices. It one thing to exercise tough love in order to serve a greater purpose but that purpose should always have as an end result love, respect and selflessness.
Further, the exercise of one virtue does not mean neglecting all others—bravery does not mean violence and aversion to peace, truth does not mean tactlessness and being inconsiderate. While virtues are non-negotiables, they do not exist in black and white. That is why human beings are virtuous because it takes discernment and conscience as well. The film successfully underlines that Divergents (those with two or more dominant traits/virtues) are the instruments for society to survive and humanity to flourish.