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'Insurgent' is a compelling story complete with surprises
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Tori (Maggie Q) and Uriah (Keiynan Lonsdale) in The Divergent Series: Insurgent. - photo by Doug Wright
'Insurgent' (rated PG-13) 3 stars

I havent read the books in Veronica Roth's Divergent series, but so far, I have thoroughly enjoyed the films. Divergent garnered three stars from me, and now Insurgent gets the same.

Shailene Woodley reprises her role as Tris. This time, Tris and her group, primarily from the social faction called "Dauntless," are trying their best not to fall into the clutches of the evil erudite Jeanine (Kate Winslet).

Jeanine's diabolical goal is to find the ultimate Divergent in order to extract a secret message from the founders contained in a mysterious box that has been in the care of Tris now deceased mother.

So why does she need to find the ultimate Divergent? Apparently shes discovered it takes someone with attributes from all of the societal factions to open the box. When Jeanine does capture a Divergent, they are literally plugged into various cables and subjected to an excruciating process to see if they are the one. Turns out, if theyre not, they die. Oh well.

So, who is the ultimate Divergent that can unlock the secrets of the founders?

If youre feeling totally lost right now, its perfectly understandable and simply indicates you havent read the books or viewed the first film. But heres my confession: I should have refreshed my memory with a quick peek at my DVD of Divergent, because even I was struggling to boot-up all the dots connecting the myriad storylines.

Ive always made the case that a sequel should be able to stand on its own, Insurgent doesnt, but Im going to cut it a little slack.

Heres just a little primer to fill in a few blanks.

Were in a post-apocalyptic world set in the remnants of Chicago. The Founders, in order to salvage humanity, have walled off the city and set up a society based on factions. The theory is that each faction supports the others and if each individual focuses on their role in the structure, the society will survive. At a certain age, young people are assigned to a faction determined by a method a little reminiscent of the sorting hat at Hogwarts. But ultimately, the individual has a choice and it better be right, because you dont want to end up kicked out and faction-less. However, there is something worse the Divergent, someone with aptitude in multiple factions. That is deemed to be the paramount threat to the society.

That leads us to Insurgent, were a full rebellion is under way with many questioning leadership and the society itself.

The performances are all good with just enough intrigue, conflict and emotion to stretch the characters. In other words, its not just superb special effects and wonderfully coordinated action all shaken up in a bag. We actually have a compelling story here complete with some real surprises.