By Nancy Mills
IF THE FILM VERSION of a beloved book
doesn’t prompt its fan base to swoon, what
happens when the filmmakers start working
on its sequel? In the case of Insurgent, they get
a new director, increase the budget and add a
lot more action.
When Divergent opened in March 2014,
the reviews were mixed: “Respectful but
tepid”—Los Angeles Times. The young members of the Divergent cast—Shailene Woodley,
Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller and Jai
Courtney—were practically unknown.
However, the film did well enough to guarantee that the other two books in Veronica Roth’s
dystopian trilogy would make it to the screen.
Meanwhile, a funny thing happened
while Insurgent was in production. The cast
became a lot more famous. Woodley and
Elgort starred in the popular The Fault in Our
Stars. Teller had a starring role in the Oscar-nominated Whiplash, and
Courtney made Unbroken
and Terminator Genisys.
Producers Doug Wick
and Lucy Fisher, both
Costco members, tell The
Connection why the movie series got off to a
slow start. “There was a tiny bit of worry that
we would be a [Hunger Games] copycat,”
Fisher says. “But once people saw our film,
that fear was gone. There should be room for
more than one movie that stars a fantastic
“Divergent director Neil Burger had a
tough job,” Wick adds. “He had to establish
a new coherent world and all these wonderful
characters. In the second movie, we could
have a lot more fun in that world.”
The trilogy is set in the future, where the
population is divided into fixed classes.
Neither Tris (Woodley) nor Four (James) fits
neatly into one class—a circumstance that
leads to romance.
“The reason I fell in love with Divergent
was the relationship between Tris and Four,”
Woodley says. “It’s based on truth and respect,
not on physical attraction. They saw each
other as individuals. In Insurgent, their relationship is rocky. You’re keeping someone at
The Costco Connection
Costco members will find Insurgent
[Item #717778] in a Blu-ray/DVD combo
pack in warehouses beginning 8/4.
Divergent sequel Insurgent
ups the ante
arm’s length because you’re protecting your
own vulnerabilities, not because of anything
Woodley’s biggest challenge on
Insurgent was getting back into character. The movie begins three days after
She also had to get used to a new
director, Robert Schwentke, known for
the action comedy Red with Bruce Willis.
“Robert immediately makes you feel com-
fortable,” Woodley says. “He shows up every
day with a smile on his face.”
“[Schwentke’s] energy level was different,
which is always good,” James adds. “It helps
mix it up. We could jump straight into the
action without introducing and explaining the
“Jump” is the operative word. The young
cast jumps off moving trains and buildings.
They fight. They have murky motives. They
“The action sequences are much bigger
this time,” says Courtney, who plays Eric.
“Insurgent is fast-paced and pretty electrifying. I went through a few pairs of pants running across that field.”
Kate Winslet returns as tough-as-nails
leader Jeanine, while Naomi Watts joins the
ensemble as a charismatic and mysterious
force. She adds a level of complication missing in the first movie.
“Insurgent is about the struggle of iden-
tity,” Watts explains. “ ‘Who are we when we
leave our families?’ ‘Who do we become?’
‘What are we capable of?’ We don’t stop ask-
ing those questions.”
Watts will keep asking them in Allegiant:
Part 1, which started filming in Atlanta this
summer. Part 2 will likely be filmed in 2016.
“There are some big differences in
Insurgent,” producer Wick says about the
book-to-film adaptation. “We took some
leaps, but [Insurgent author] Veronica Roth
was always in the loop. The biggest job of the
movie is to keep the spirit of the book. When
33 million readers say the book affects them,
you take that very seriously.” C
Nancy Mills is a Los Angeles–based journalist
who writes about film and television.
ANDREW COOPER / © 2014 / LIONSGATE
In our digital editions
Watch a video about what
to expect in Insurgent. (See
page 13 for details.)
Left: Eric (Jai Courtney) hunts
down those he considers traitors.
Below, left to right: Tris (Shailene
Woodley), Four (Theo James)
and Caleb (Ansel Elgort)