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‘Insurgent’ Reviews: Is Shailene Woodley As Fierce In The Sequel?

Fri, March 20, 2015 5:41pm EDT by 4 Comments

Shailene Woodley returns as Tris in ‘Insurgent,’ and things are more intense than ever before. But does the action burst off the screen or is this movie just busted? We’ve rounded up the reviews so you can know if you should see ‘Insurgent’ or divert your attention elsewhere.

In Insurgent, the second film in the Divergent series, Tris (Shailene Woodley) must join Four (Theo James) as they fight against the power-hungry Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and the Erudite class that seized control of their post-apocalyptic city. The film looks to go bigger than the the first, promising more action, more romance, twists and brand new characters. But what did the critics think?

‘Insurgent’ Review: Shailene Woodley Shines While Everything Else Sinks

Most critics did not fall in love–some fell asleep–with this sequel, but most agreed that Shailene’s performance was the movie’s best feature. It’s a shame there wasn’t much else they found enjoyable. Things got bigger and bolder, but it wasn’t always better for some:

New York Times

Ms. Woodley looks more comfortable with her action-heroine duties than she did in “Divergent,” though this may have more to do with her rising stardom than anything else, including her new director. She looks at ease running and gunning now, and also shows off some impressive upper body strength along with some feeling. Like [Director Robert] Schwentke, she hits all the requisite marks in a story that, like so many middle chapters, feels distinctly interstitial.


Considering that “Insurgent” is meant to represent the series’ great civil war, it all comes across feeling like a tempest in a teapot: a glorified rehash of what came before, garnished with the promise of what lies in store. Evelyn has been introduced, but barely used; Tris got to confront her guilt while re-demonstrating her Divergent skills; and the central couple has inched just a little bit closer to crossing that mysterious wall. Perhaps instead of splitting the third book into two movies, they should have considered combining the first two into one.


The first half of Insurgent is diffuse and uninvolving, but Shailene keeps us watching with her cool, unshowy, thoughtful acting, which lifts even the stupidest plot turns above the Flash Gordon level. She’s not especially fun, though.

New York Post

With the notable exception of the gifted Shailene Woodley — who continues to give this increasingly pointless knockoff of the “Hunger Games’’ franchise better than it deserves as its cut-rate Katniss — practically everyone you’re watching seems to be wishing they were somewhere else. So you might want to take the hint.

Entertainment Weekly

Taken for what it is, Insurgent is a vast improvement over the franchise’s first installment…But most of the credit belongs to Woodley. She is undoubtedly one of the finest young actors working right now, and appears to be much more comfortable here than in the first movie. One scene in particular forces Tris to publicly and emotionally expose herself, and the entirety of the sequence’s weight rests squarely on Woodley’s shoulders (or her face, I guess). It’s an amazing feat of acting.

What do you think, Hollywood Lifers? Are you going to see Insurgent despite the mixed reviews? 

— Jason Brow