Insurgent has a great cast and some awesome action scenes, but scratch the surface and you’ll start to see a lot of things that don’t really make any sense. We found ourselves asking “Why?” more often than muttering “Wow” while watching the second Divergent movie, and here’s why. Note to book readers: For the purposes of this dissection, let's just ignore the very-different Insurgent book. [SPOILERS AHEAD!]
1. Why Are All These Stars in This Movie?
It's not like it's surprising to see good actors in movies of questionable quality, but Divergent's roster is ridiculously stacked. It's kind of crazy to see several Oscar nominees and winners in barely fleshed out supporting roles for a movie that plays like old school B science fiction. For perspective, remember Theo James has about the thinnest resumé in the cast, yet has more screen time than Oscar winner Kate Winslet, Miles Teller coming off the Oscar-winning Whiplash, Oscar nominee Naomi Watts, and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer. (Probably more than all of them combined.)
2. Peter's Allegiances Are All Over the Place
Peter just doesn't know what side he wants to be on. He's a natural born stooge who hates the idea of being anyone's stooge. He ends the first movie running away with the good guys because he's afraid the bad guys will kill him. He defects at the earliest opportunity in Insurgent only to switch sides again after seeing Tris decide not to kill him in a simulation. After he makes that switch, Tris and Four for some reason trust the murderous double crosser with their lives by giving him a key part of their super important mission. That last switch is really hard to swallow for the audience, so why in the world would they ever give this guy another chance to screw them over? Every character in this scenario does end up with some flimsy motivation, but Peter's switches are especially ridiculous and feel like they just needed to happen for the plot to come together.
3. So Is Caleb Evil Or Dumb Or What?
Being Erudite, Caleb is supposed to be governed by logic more than anything else, which might explain the cold-hearted way he's able to give up on his sister, but it doesn't explain why he'd go back to Jeanine, who's actions are more obsessive than logical. If he was going to go back to Jeanine, why did he risk his life by dodging bullets running away from her soldiers? Couldn't he have saved himself some trouble? By the end of the movie, he has a look on his face that seems to suggest he's worried he's made a terrible mistake. And he has! He's failed his family and he's failed to be a good Erudite, falling instead into the same ambitious trap as Jeanine. So what was it all for?
4. Tris Sacrifices Herself for Nothing
When Tris gets up in the middle of the night and leaves Four to hand herself over to Jeanine, she's supposedly doing it to stop Jeanine from hijacking people and forcing them to kill themselves. But when she asks Jeanine if the suicides will stop if she cooperates, Jeanine says, "No." Well, duh. You should have seen this coming, Tris. It's not like she was doing it all to find out what the mysterious Founders left in that box, either. She didn't know about that until after she showed up.
5. Dauntless Is Terrible at Hiding Out
At the beginning of the movie, Tris and Four are talking about trying to reconnect with the rest of the Dauntless faction. They're worried they'll be hard to find since they're supposedly keeping a low profile after Jeanine effectively split the faction in two, and she's got the power. That makes sense. What doesn't make sense is that when Tris and Four arrive at Candor headquarters, the biggest building in the area, the rest of the Dauntless are just hanging out like they've been waiting for the duo to show up.
6. What's This "100 Percent Divergent" Business?
When Eric holds up his magical Divergent scanning device, it reveals that most Divergents are 10 or 20 or 40 percent. But when he scans Tris, she shows up as full-on 100 percent Divergent. What does that mean though? It can't mean that she's an equal mix of all factions because she isn't. We established that in the first book/movie when she tested into either Dauntless or Abnegation. But how else could Divergence possibly be measured in a percentage?
7. Jeanine Shoots Literally Everyone and Still Can't Win
Jeanine successfully launches a campaign to literally shoot everyone with devices that she can use to hijack them and make them do whatever she wants. First off, that's the end right there. If she has that kind of power, she can pretty much run away with her coveted authoritarian leadership role and take her time opening that mysterious box because it doesn't matter what it says. Second, she can make all these people do ANYTHING she wants, and all she can think to do is make them kill themselves? Couldn't she get them to find Tris for her? Or maybe even just turn them all into her zombies doing whatever she wants forever? She's already won!
8. The Founders Locked Their Invitation in a Death Box?
When Tris finally opens the Founders' box by completing all five factions' simulations, thus proving herself to be Divergent, it unlocks a message from the Founders inviting everyone in the city to come out and see the world. But before Tris could unlock the message, the box killed all the other people who attempted to open it. These Founders seem like pretty nice people — questionable judgment, but nice. For some reason they felt like it was really important to lock people in a strictly segmented society to teach them to be balanced people, which seems weird. But they don't seem malevolent. So why did they protect their nice, sweet invitation to everyone to come see what's outside the walls by KILLING almost everyone who tried to play the message? Why couldn't the simulations just fail? Why do they have to kill people? Maybe the Founders are even more sadistic than Jeanine.
9. This Marionette Torture Device Thing
To unlock the Founders' Mysterious Death Box, one must plug into a simulation to complete a series of five tests. We saw in Divergent that the simulations can be performed on someone while they're comfortably reclined in a chair. So why do we need to turn people into marionettes with cables that stab far enough into their bodies to physically manipulate them like they're puppets? If a character sitting in a chair plugged into a computer worked for The Matrix, it can work for you, too. From what we see, it doesn't look like Tris is in pain when those tendrils of doom stab themselves into her body, which is great for her, but it just adds another layer of WTF to it.