The film, directed by R.I.P.D.’s Robert Schwentke, recalls a whole roster of other sci-fi, YA, and fantasy movies new and old, from Star Wars to The Matrix and, of course, The Hunger Games. Here’s a list of movies we kept while watching Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and friends fight their way to the truth.
When Tris, Four, and Caleb make it to the secret headquarters of the Faction rejects, they find a motley crew of young people dressed in hand-me-down clothes, and sporting makeshift armors and weapons. It looked like a much scarier, more high-stakes version of the Lost Boys’ tree house in Hook, with huge machine guns instead of blow darts and catapults.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Parts 1 and 2
An A-list actress comes into a dystopian YA franchise mid-stream to play a rebel leader who may harbor evil intentions, and who takes power with the help of our heroine? Sounds familiar! The difference here is that Evelyn is Four’s long-lost mom, so we have more reason to be suspicious of her, but Tris seems to think she’s trustworthy.
Marvel’s The Avengers
The mysterious box being sought by Kate Winslet’s Jeanine is remarkably powerful — much like the mystery box that Loki is after in The Avengers. We don’t know what’s in it, but the villain is willing to kill in abundance to get their hands on it.
Despite having highly advanced technology that can read peoples’ minds and project Winslet’s face on skyscrapers, the government of Chicago just cannot find a way to rebuild any of the miles of bombed-out buildings. In both George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 and its big screen adaptation it’s by design that The Party keeps the proles in squalor, but it’s unclear why things haven’t gotten better, infrastructure-wise, in Insurgent, since the evil villain isn’t exactly the head of the government yet.
It is an unfortunate staple of YA and fantasy fiction that at formative times in their lives, young people are separated into groups based on the personality traits dominating their ever-changing brains at that very moment. It worked out for Harry Potter, since he got to stay with BFFs Ron and Hermoine, and, in the end, perhaps deciding to join Dauntless will turn out to be a good call by Tris. But still, why divide kids like that? That’s not very progressive!
Inception and The Matrix
Tris spends about half of Insurgent either having incredibly realistic nightmares, or being hooked up to a bunch of tubes that read her mind and force her to live out her worse fears. It’s stressful, and also reminiscent of the much more complex Inception, which saw Leonardo DiCaprio and friends dive deep into various peoples’ subconsciousnesses. It also reminds one of The Matrix, with its army of humans plugged into simulations of better lives.
The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi
A cocky, charismatic supporting character who plays for both teams, depending on his own best interest? Miles Teller's Peter, who is the best part of Insurgent, is a worthy successor to Billy Dee Williams' Lando Calrissian — and he even dresses like him.
Jordan Zakarin writes for Yahoo Movies