INSURGENT – Review by Susan Granger

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This highly-anticipated sequel to last year’s “Divergent” is set in a dystopian futuristic Chicago, where society is rigidly divided into five factions, according to skill and aptitude: Amity (peaceful), Abnegation (selfless), Candor (honest), Dauntless (brave) and Erudite (intelligent) – with the dispossessed Outsiders, known as Factionless. They’re supervised by megalomaniacal Jeanine (Kate Winslet), who discovered a mysterious, five-sided box containing information from the founders of the new civilization. She’s sure it’s the answer to what she perceives as the Divergent dilemma. Divergents are considered dangerous because they have attributes of multiple factions. Problem is: she needs a Divergent to open it. Read on…

Meanwhile, the reluctant Divergent heroine, Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley), is on the run with other rebels. Having lost her parents (Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn) in a recent battle, she’s haunted by nightmares, filled with guilt and grief.

Along with a new, short haircut, Tris has a seemingly meek brother. Caleb (Ansel Elgort), whose allegiances are shifting; Candor pal Christina (Zoe Kravitz); conniving frenemy Peter (Miles Teller); and hunky protector, known as Four (Theo James), whose murky past is revealed as part of the plot.

Adapting Veronica Roth’s derivative YA trilogy, three screenwriters (Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman and Mark Bomback), along with director Robert Schwentke (“The Time Traveler’s Wife,” “R.E.D.”), have crafted a meandering, action-packed sci-fi saga – that’s perhaps too kinetic. SIMs (hallucinatory simulations) and breathless chase scenes abound, including a memorable one involving train-hopping.

Formidable Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer make cameo appearances, perhaps foreshadowing bigger roles in the third and fourth movies that split the concluding novel, “Allegiant” into two parts.

And there are new additions: British model-turned-actress Suki Waterhouse, Rosa Salazar, Emjay Anthony, Jonny Weston and Keiynan Lonsdale. And a techno soundtrack.

But it’s Shailene Woodley (“The Spectacular Now,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” “The Descendants”) whose angst-riddled close-ups propel the obvious plot, along with intense stunt work and visual effects. Plus there’s that huge, electric fence that surrounds the entire city.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Insurgent” is a fast-paced 5 – a “Hunger Games” wannabe.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.