REVIEW: WAR DOGS

CAST

Joanh Hill (21 Jump Street)
Miles Teller (Whiplash)
Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2046)
Bradley Cooper (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Kevin Pollak (Mom)
Patrick St. Esprit (Sons of Anarchy)
JB Blanc (Garfield 2)
Gabriel Spahiu (Raise Your Head)
Barry Livingston (my Three Sons)
Eddie Jemison (Izombie)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)

Jonah Hill and Miles Teller in War Dogs (2016)In 2005, David Packouz lives in Miami, Florida, working as a massage therapist and living with his girlfriend Iz. Desiring an additional source of income, David spends his life savings on high-quality Egyptian cotton sheets, planning to sell them to Miami retirement homes, but this venture fails to produce results. At a funeral for a friend, David runs into his high school best friend Efraim Diveroli, who had moved to Los Angeles some years prior to work with his uncle selling guns. Efraim has left his uncle and formed his own company, AEY, which fills orders for arms placed by the US government due to the ongoing War in Iraq. David’s life takes another turn when his girlfriend informs him that she is pregnant. Efraim offers him a job at AEY, and even though David and Iz both vehemently oppose the war, David eventually agrees, telling his girlfriend that he has begun selling his cotton sheets to the US government through Efraim’s contacts.Jonah Hill and Miles Teller in War Dogs (2016)Efraim explains to David that all orders placed for military equipment are posted on a public website, where anyone can place bids on filling the orders, and their job is to find the small orders that larger contractors do not bother with and place bids on them, with these smaller orders still being worth millions of dollars. A local small business owner, Ralph Slutzky, assists the business with funding, under the false belief that AEY only sells arms to help protect Israel. Eventually, David and Efraim land a contract to provide several thousand Beretta pistols to the Iraqi Police in Baghdad, a deal that would put them on the map. Unfortunately, an Italian embargo blocks the shipment to Iraq, so Efraim attempts to route the shipment through Jordan, but the shipment gets held up there as well. With Iz discovering David’s true business by overhearing a conversation between him and Efraim, leaving her upset, David and Efraim have to fly to Jordan to free up their cargo or risk being blacklisted by the US Government for failing to deliver.Miles Teller and Julian Sergi in War Dogs (2016)In Jordan, Efraim manages to use bribes to free up the Beretta shipment, but are still not allowed to fly the cargo to Baghdad without a permit that will take several weeks to acquire. The guns are loaded up into a truck and the two are provided with a driver who offers to drive the guns to Iraq, as no permit is required for driving guns across the border. The three drive through the night, at one point bribing border patrol with two cartons of cigarettes, and at another point being attacked by insurgents while trying to get gas, but eventually arrive at the military base. Captain Santos, the man receiving the shipment, is impressed by the lengths the two went through to get the guns to him, and the two are paid.Shaun Toub, Jonah Hill, and Miles Teller in War Dogs (2016)After this, AEY continues to secure larger deals and make more money, even moving into a larger office and hiring more employees, and David’s daughter Ella is born. Efraim, however, continues to grow more unstable and untrustworthy, as the company is suddenly given a chance to land their biggest deal yet. Known as “The Afghan Deal”, the US Government wishes to arm the Afghan military for the long-term, and post a massive order worth $300 million, which includes 100 million rounds of AK-47 ammunition and would have netted the war dogs a $100 million profit. Filling this order proves to be near-impossible for such a relatively small company, particularly in that there is a global shortage on AK-47 ammunition, but the two end up lucking into an encounter with legendary US arms dealer Henry Girard. Girard has access to the massive weapon storages that were created in Albania but never used, and must now be disposed of in accordance with NATO treaties, which includes well over a hundred million rounds of AK-47 ammunition. Girard can not directly deal with the US Government anymore, due to being on a watchlist, and wants to make the deal through AEY. Efraim agrees, although David expresses discomfort working with a man who is on a terrorist watchlist.Jonah Hill and Miles Teller in War Dogs (2016)The two go to Albania to confirm that the ammunition works, then place the winning bid on the contract – though Efraim is upset to learn that their bid was the lowest by $53 million, reducing their profit margin. Meanwhile, Iz grows frustrated with David’s continuing string of lies about his work, and leaves to live with her mother. While in Albania to prepare the shipment, David discovers that virtually all of the rounds are Chinese-made and illegal under a US embargo against Chinese arms. Efraim comes up with the idea of re-packaging the rounds in generic packaging, pretending that they are concerned about the weight of the shipments (though it inadvertently does save $3 million in shipping costs). While the rounds are repackaged and shipped, Efraim learns that Henry charged them a 400% markup (10 cents on 2.5 cents) on the rounds, and wants to cut him out of the deal. David protests that they are all making great money, but Efraim destroys the only copy of his partnership contract with David and proceeds with his plan to cut Henry out.Andrei Finti, Jonah Hill, and Miles Teller in War Dogs (2016)Henry retaliates by having David kidnapped from his hotel room, beaten, and held at gunpoint before leaving him alive, though David is left wondering if his now missing Albanian driver, Bashkim, has been killed. David learns that Efraim has not paid the small ($100,000) cost to Enver, the Albanian who is handling the repackaging.Jonah Hill and Miles Teller in War Dogs (2016)David returns to Miami, where he tells Efraim that he is quitting AEY and demands immediate payout of the $4 million (offers to settle for $1.6) owed for his work-to-date, but Efraim refuses and laughs about the partnership contract being gone. David returns to working as a massage therapist and convinces Iz to move back in with him by telling her the truth about his AEY work. Weeks later, Efraim and Ralph Slutzky meet with David. Efraim offers a severance package of just $200,000, which David responds to by threatening to blackmail him with the evidence he has of the falsified documentation the two created to look like a respectable company so they could secure the Afghan deal. Shortly after this, David and Efraim are both arrested by the FBI. Enver, not paid for the repackaging contract and understanding the Chinese embargo, had reported AEY to the Pentagon. The FBI had arrested Ralph, who then wore a wire during the meeting with David and Efraim, giving the FBI enough to arrest them. Efraim is sentenced to four years in prison for numerous crimes related to conspiracy and fraud on the Afghan deal, and David gets seven months house arrest in exchange for co-operating with the investigation.Jonah Hill and Miles Teller in War Dogs (2016)Months later, David meets with Henry, who apologizes for the kidnapping and assault in Albania, claiming he had bad information. He also thanks David for not mentioning his name in his confession to the FBI. David begins to ask questions about the events of the deal, including the fate of Bashkim. In response, Henry pulls out a briefcase full of money, a part of his own cut from the Afghan deal, and offers it to David in exchange for dropping the subject. The movie ends before David decides.Jonah Hill and Miles Teller in War Dogs (2016)War Dogs doesn’t necessarily explore any new territory as far as the life of a criminal goes, but it’s educational and entertaining every step of the way.

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REVIEW: PROJECT X

CAST

Thomas Mann (Kong: Skull Island)
Oliver Cooper (Mojave)
Jonathan Daniel Brown (Bad Milo)
Kirby Bliss Blanton (Death Wish)
Alexis Knapp (Pitch Perfect)
Miles Teller (Whiplash)
Martin Klebba (Movie 43)
Caitlin Dulany (Oldboy)

Rick Shapiro, Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, and Jonathan Daniel Brown in Project X (2012)In Pasadena, high school students Costa and J.B. plan to throw a party for their friend Thomas’s birthday, aiming to increase their popularity. Thomas’s parents go away for the weekend, leaving him alone in the house, but warn him not to have too many people over, and not to drive his father’s Mercedes. Thomas is reluctant to have the party at his house, but Costa continues with his plan. Costa hires A/V student Dax to chronicle the night’s events. While Costa, J.B., and Dax advertise the party throughout the school, Thomas himself invites Alexis, the hottest girl at school, and his best friend Kirby, who has a crush on Thomas.Miles Teller in Project X (2012)After buying party supplies, the boys go to buy marijuana from drug-dealer T-Rick. While T-Rick is not looking, Costa steals his lawn gnome to use as a party mascot. As they leave, T-Rick discovers his gnome stolen and chases after them but they escape in Thomas’ mini-van. As night falls, the party’s start time passes but no one turns up and Thomas worries that the party will fail. Suddenly, party-goers arrive en-masse. Thomas intends to limit the party to the backyard and poolhouse with the house guarded by Everett and Tyler, two young security guards hired by Costa. However, more and more people begin to arrive and the party moves beyond their control and into the house. Thomas questions Costa on how he advertised the party, forcing him to confess that he put ads on Craigslist and on a local radio station, worried that no one would attend.Miles Teller and Jonathan Daniel Brown in Project X (2012)Things escalate quickly and the police arrive, responding to a noise complaint. The partygoers remain silent, convincing the officers that the party has already ended. The police leave and the party resumes. T-Rick’s gnome is smashed, revealing that it contains a large amount of ecstasy tablets, which are quickly consumed by the partygoers. Thomas kisses Kirby and reveals that he loves her. Alexis meanwhile flirts with Thomas throughout the night and eventually seduces him. Kirby walks in on the pair as they are about to have sex and leaves the party upset. The noise and chaos of the party, which has now spilled into the surrounding neighborhood, receives televised news coverage with helicopters flying over the house. A dwarf guest drives Thomas’ dad’s Mercedes into the pool after being put into an oven by other partygoers.Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, and Jonathan Daniel Brown in Project X (2012)The police return in force but are overwhelmed and repelled by the guests. They decide to let the party end naturally before moving in. T-Rick arrives armed with a flamethrower in an attempt to reclaim his gnome. He begins setting fire to the trees and cars in search of Costa, forcing the guests to flee and the party to end. The police shoot his flamethrower pack and it explodes. Thomas, Costa, J.B., and Dax flee with the other guests as Thomas’ house (and the rest of the neighborhood) is left aflame and the SWAT team moves in to retake the neighborhood. By morning, the boys return to their respective homes to discover what punishment awaits them. After his parents return, Thomas’s father commends him for managing to throw the party because he thought he was a loser, but he uses Thomas’s college fund to pay for the damages. At school, the boys are cheered by the students and Thomas reconciles romantically with Kirby.Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, and Jonathan Daniel Brown in Project X (2012)In the epilogue, T-Rick is recovered alive following the explosion, Thomas is convicted for disturbing the peace, contributing to the delinquency of minors, and inciting a riot, and Costa and J.B. are acquitted; Costa because of his expensive lawyer, and J.B. because his parents convince the court that he is mentally incapable and unfit to stand trial. Costa, however, is currently waiting for the results of three paternity tests. Dax, meanwhile, is under investigation for the disappearance of his parents. In a TV interview with Jillian Reynolds, Costa promises his next party will be even better.Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, and Jonathan Daniel Brown in Project X (2012)Don’t watch this film if you’re looking for artistic credit, watch it to be entertained. This wouldn’t have been a film I would have picked out myself but after watching it I would recommend it, although not one to watch with the family.

REVIEW: THAT AWKWARD MOMENT

CAST

Zac Efron (Bad Neighbours 1 & 2)
Michael B. Jordan (Creed)
Miles Teller (Divergent)
Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later)
Mackenzie Davis (Black Mirror)
Jessica Lucas (Gotham)
Addison Timlin (Derailed)
Josh Pais (Ray Donovan)
D.B. Woodside (24)

Jason (Zac Efron) is sitting on a bench in New York City waiting for someone to arrive. A voiceover explains that he has been waiting for a long time, but to explain why, he needs to go back to the beginning. Jason begins by telling the audience that every relationship reaches the “So…” moment, where someone in the relationship will want to take the relationship to a more serious place. At that point, Jason knows the relationship is over, as he is not ready to start dating.Jason is currently working with his best friend Daniel (Miles Teller) at a publishing house designing book covers. Their friend Mikey (Michael B. Jordan), a young doctor who has been married to Vera (Jessica Lucas) since the end of college, comes to them after Vera requests a divorce. The three decide to go out to a bar and celebrate being single. The group meets up with Daniel’s female wingman, Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), as they try to get Mikey’s mind off of his wife. Mikey meets a girl with glasses (Kate Simses), while Jason meets Ellie (Imogen Poots), and hits it off with her after teasing another man that was trying to buy her a drink. Mikey gets the girl’s number, but decides not to call, resolving to work it out with his wife. Jason sleeps with Ellie, but escapes her apartment when he discovers circumstantial evidence that she may be a prostitute.The next day, Jason and Daniel make a book cover pitch to a new author, who happens to be Ellie. Jason is able to explain himself and the two begin seeing each other on a regular basis. Meanwhile, Daniel begins to fall for Chelsea, and the two begin seeing one another. Additionally, Mikey meets with his estranged wife, and when she claims that the reason their marriage fell apart is because he is not spontaneous enough, Mikey kisses her, and the two sleep together in the hospital, reigniting their romance. All three friends attempt to keep their relationships a secret, due to their earlier agreement that they would stay single. The relationships all come to a head during Thanksgiving, a time that the three friends usually spend together, but varying circumstances keep them apart. Jason agrees to attend a funeral for Ellie’s recently passed father, Mikey plans a Thanksgiving dinner with his wife, and Daniel attends the traditional Thanksgiving feast with Chelsea, free to openly tell the guests about their relationship.Jason ultimately decides not to attend the funeral, not ready to fully commit to Ellie, and their relationship falls apart. Mikey has a serious conversation with his wife during their dinner, causing her to admit that she no longer loves him. Jason and Mikey head to the dinner where they discover Daniel’s relationship with Chelsea, and when he denies that they are dating, his relationship falls apart as well. Although the three fight about keeping their relationships secret, they repair their friendship and try to recover their relationships.Mikey calls the glasses girl from the bar, setting up a date, and Daniel reunites with Chelsea after being hit by a taxi and ending up in the hospital. However, two months later, Jason has still not reconciled with Ellie, despite still being in love with her. Mikey and Daniel help Jason by encouraging him to tell her of his love at her weekly book readings, which are sparsely attended. However, upon their arrival, the reading is full and Jason is unable to figure out a way to talk with her. He decides to make a scene by improvising a book reading, referencing their first meeting and requesting that they start over by meeting in Gramercy Park.Returning to the beginning, Jason is waiting for Ellie in Gramercy Park. Ellie arrives and sits on the bench with him, where Jason starts their talk, beginning with, “So…”It is definitely not comparable laughter-wise to movies such as This Is The End or 21 & 22 Jump Street, but it is very good. The type of humor may not be for everyone, but I found it to be very funny.

REVIEW: WHIPLASH

CAST

Miles Teller (The Divergent Series)
J.K. SImmons (Spider-Man)
Paul Resier (Aliens)
Melissa Benoist (Supergirl TV)
Austin Stowell (Injustice)
Nate Lang (What Maisie Knew)
Chris Mulkey (First Blood)
Damon Gupton (Bates Motel)
Suanne Spoke (War of The Worlds)

Andrew Neiman is a first-year jazz student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in New York. He has been playing drums from a young age and aspires to become one of the greats like Buddy Rich. Famed conductor Terence Fletcher discovers Andrew practicing in the music room late one night and eventually invites him into his studio band as the alternative for core drummer Carl Tanner. Fletcher is abusive toward his students, mocking and insulting them; when the band rehearses the Hank Levy piece “Whiplash” and Andrew struggles to keep the tempo, Fletcher hurls a chair at him, slaps him, and berates him in front of the class.

At a jazz competition, Andrew misplaces Carl’s sheet music. Since Carl cannot play without it, Andrew steps in, telling Fletcher that he can perform “Whiplash” from memory. After a successful performance, Fletcher promotes him to core drummer. Soon after, Fletcher recruits Ryan Connolly, the core drummer from Andrew’s former lower-level class. Andrew believes Connolly is the less talented drummer, and is infuriated when Fletcher promotes him to core. Determined to impress Fletcher, Andrew practices until his hands bleed and breaks up with his girlfriend Nicole, believing she will hold him back.

Fletcher tearfully reveals in class that a talented former student of his, Sean Casey, has died in a car accident. The band rehearses “Caravan”, but Ryan struggles with the tempo. Fletcher puts Andrew, Ryan and Carl through gruelling auditions until nearly 2:00 a.m. while the rest of the class waits outside. After kicking furniture and throwing instruments across the room, Fletcher gives the position to Andrew.

On the way to another competition, Andrew’s bus breaks down. He rents a car but arrives late, and realizes he left his drumsticks at the rental office. After a dressing-down from Fletcher, Andrew races back to the rental office to retrieve the drumsticks, but his car is broadsided by a semi-trailer. He crawls from the wreckage and arrives on stage bloody and injured. When he struggles to play “Caravan” due to his injuries, Fletcher halts the performance to tell Andrew he is “done”. Andrew attacks Fletcher in front of the audience and is dismissed from Shaffer Conservatory.

Andrew meets with a lawyer representing the parents of Sean Casey. Contrary to Fletcher’s claim that Sean died in a car accident, the lawyer explains that Sean hanged himself, having suffered anxiety and depression during his time as Fletcher’s student. Sean’s parents want to prevent Fletcher from teaching again. Andrew agrees to testify on the condition of anonymity, and Fletcher is fired from Shaffer Conservatory.

Months later, Andrew has abandoned drumming and is working in a restaurant while applying to different colleges. One evening he discovers Fletcher performing at a jazz club. After the performance, Fletcher invites Andrew to drink with him. He explains that he pushed his students beyond the expected so that they might achieve greatness and become the next Louis Armstrong or Charlie Parker. He invites Andrew to replace the current drummer in his band at the upcoming JVC Jazz Festival. Andrew agrees. He invites Nicole to the performance, but she is in a new relationship.

On stage at the jazz festival, moments before the performance is about to start, Fletcher reveals that he knows Andrew testified against him, and leads the band with a piece Andrew does not know. Unable to follow the cues without sheet music, Andrew leaves the stage humiliated. After being consoled by his father, he defiantly returns to the drum kit, begins playing “Caravan”, and cues the band to follow his lead. Infuriated, Fletcher reluctantly follows suit. As the piece ends and the lights go down, Andrew continues his own solo. Fletcher is taken aback but begins to guide Andrew. The two share a look before Fletcher cues the band finale.

Whiplash is an exhilarating, provocative and often brutal film which combines musical drama with psychological thriller as director Damien Chazelle presents us with two obsessed individuals locked in an intense and mesmerising battle of wills. J.K. Simmons fully deserves his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his electric portrayal of Terence Fletcher.

REVIEW: THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT

CAST

Shailene Woodley (The Fault In Our Stars)
Theo James (Underworld 4)
Jeff Daniels (The Martian)
Naomi Watts (Birdman)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver)
Miles Teller (Fantastic Four)
Keiynan Lonsdale (The Flash)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Bill Skarsgard (Hemlock Grove)
Jonny Weston (Project Almanac)
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone)
Mekhi Phifer (Lie To Me)
Ashley Judd (High Crimes)
Xander Berkeley (Poison Ivy 2)

Many Chicago citizens run towards the wall, but soldiers under Evelyn (Naomi Watts) are told to shut down the perimeter, and thus, no one is allowed through. Evelyn directs Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim) of Candor to hold trials for the Erudite and Dauntless conspirators, in which a number of them becoming executions, starting with Max (Mekhi Phifer). Evelyn and Johanna (Octavia Spencer) attempt to pressure Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) into taking leadership positions in the new coalition, but both refuse. After seeing that the hostile situation within the city is only going to get worse, Tris escapes with Four, Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Tori (Maggie Q), and Peter (Miles Teller) to journey beyond the wall that encloses Chicago. However, Tori is killed by Edgar (Jonny Weston) in the attempt.  The group is ambushed by Edgar, who is later disabled by an armed group of individuals and airships. The soldiers take the group to the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, a highly advanced city where they learn that years ago the government believed that society’s problems were caused by “damaged genes”. In an attempt to create a better society, they began to modify people’s genes, with disastrous results. The government set up “experiments” in an attempt to repair this mistake, establishing isolated cities across the remains of the United States. The hope is to raise enough genetically pure Divergent individuals to fix the “genetic damage” left in the wake of the Purity War.

Tris and Four are tested by Matthew (Bill Skarsgård) and Nita (Nadia Hilker) to verify and study their Divergence. Tris is shown to be truly Divergent, but Four’s genetic structure indicates that his genes are still “damaged”. Caleb and Peter are assigned to surveillance teams that monitor Chicago. Matthew then brings Tris to the leader of the Bureau, David (Jeff Daniels). David gives Tris a device that allows her to view her mother’s memories, and sees that her mother was rescued and adopted by the Bureau before volunteering to join the Chicago experiment out of dedication to the project. In return for his help in restoring peace to Chicago, Tris agrees to help David, who claims that only the council he reports to has the power to intervene.

Meanwhile, Four and Christina train with Nita and joins the Bureau’s military force. They join the military on a rescue mission to a nearby wasteland village, though Four becomes mistrusting of the Bureau’s intentions after realizing that they are going there to kidnap and forcefully integrate children into the Bureau’s populace. Upon their return, Four discreetly petitions Caleb to keep an eye on the situation in Chicago. Four also attempts to warn Tris of the Bureau’s intentions, but she rejects his ideas.

Caleb warns Four of a rapidly escalating conflict back in Chicago between Johanna’s group of Allegiants and Evelyn’s factionless, with open war becoming an imminent threat. Four appeals to Tris for her to return to Chicago with him to end the bloodshed, but she decides to go with David to Providence to meet with the council. David agrees to reinsert Four back in Chicago, escorted by Matthew and some Bureau soldiers. Once in the air, Matthew quietly reveals to Four that the flight is a trap and he is meant to be killed. A skirmish breaks out and Four defeats all of the soldiers, though the airship crashes as a result. Matthew betrays David by helping Four get through the cloak wall. Four proceeds to Chicago while Matthew remains behind to be rescued by the Bureau and warn Tris.

Meanwhile, Tris and David meet with the council. Tris disagrees with the council’s objectives and criticizes how they have done nothing to stop the violence in Chicago. The council responds that David had the power to intervene whenever he desires, revealing that he has lied to her from the beginning. During the return flight to the Bureau, Tris ends their partnership. Upon her return, she gathers Caleb and Christina in David’s airship to return to Chicago, and Nita helps them escape. Four is captured by the factionless and confronts Evelyn to end the violence although she shows no intention of standing down. Tris, Caleb, and Christina arrive to find the city tearing itself apart at the opening stage of a full assault by the Allegiant. David makes a deal with Peter in exchange for Peter’s promotion and inserts him into Chicago to convince Evelyn to deploy a hidden Bureau stockpile of gas to wipe the memories of the attackers and force a peace in her favor, to which she reluctantly agrees. Peter takes her to a vault where she can deploy the gas across the city but remain safe herself, making her the only individual in Chicago who will remember any of those events.

Tris and Christina fight through the factionless and arrive at the vault, having rescued Four along the way. At the vault door, Four convinces Evelyn to stop the gas attack, as he wouldn’t remember who she was if she carried it out. She folds and stops the release, and is shot by a frustrated Peter. Peter gloats in his victory until the same gas starts releasing inside the vault as well. Realizing David has betrayed him, Peter opens the vault so Tris and Four can stop the gas release and flees back towards the cloak wall, as Four says he will make him pay for badly wounding his mother.

Caleb arrives and aids Tris in destroying the gas dispersion hub, stopping the release. The main characters gather atop the Erudite building as they watch the stolen shuttle fly back towards the Bureau, heavily laden with explosives. Tris transmits a message to the whole city, revealing to them the existence of the Bureau and that Chicago was an experiment of the Pure. Her message to the Bureau is that Chicago is no longer their experiment, but the home of its citizens. Caleb detonates the explosives at the end of the message, tearing a massive hole through the cloak wall and revealing the two cities to each other. The film ends with the Chicago characters gazing at the Bureau in the distance, with David standing behind Tris via his machine, glaring at her.I really enjoyed this film.I love Tobias and Tris’ relationship, the challenges they face and the way they overcome this with the help of other characters. I think this movie, more than the previous two, really cemented the personalities of some of the other significant characters so we can become more invested in them and I really appreciated this touch. The movie is also shot beautifully. The only downside to the film is that its only the first half of the book we have to wait till next year for the final part.

REVIEW: THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT

CAST

Shailene Woodley (The Fault In Our Stars)
Theo James (Underworld 4)
Kate Winslet (Quills)
Naomi Watts (Birdman)
Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver)
Mekhi Phifer (Lie To Me)
Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Jai Courtney (Terminator Genysis)
Miles Teller (Fantastic Four)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Maggie Q (The King of Fighters)
Tony Goldwyn (Ghost)
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone)
Keiynan Lonsdale (The Flash)
Ashley Judd (High Crimes)
Justin Leak (Powers)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Jonny Weston (Project Almanac)
Suki Waterhouse (Pride and Predjudice and Zombies)

Five days after the assault on the Abnegation faction by Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and her mind-controlled Dauntless soldiers, Jeanine has declared martial law and that the Divergents – those with the qualities of multiple factions – and those allied with them are the enemy. Among the Abnegation wreckage, Dauntless leader Eric (Jai Courtney) and his platoon recover a five-sided box: each side has a faction symbol. Jeanine presumes it contains data from the city’s founders and the means to end the Divergence problem. As only a Divergent is capable of opening the box, she orders the capture of all Divergents.
Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller), and Caleb (Ansel Elgort) hide within the Amity compound. Soon after, Eric and his fleet arrive to test all the occupants for Divergence. Peter gives up the group’s location as Tris, Four, and Caleb escape and board a train headed into Factionless territory. After fights with the Factionless aboard, Four reveals his name–Tobias Eaton–which prompts the Factionless to stand down and reply that they have been searching for him.
Four, Tris and Caleb are given amnesty at Factionless. There, Tris and Caleb discover that the Factionless leader is Four’s mother, Evelyn (Naomi Watts). She suggests that Dauntless and Factionless should ally against Erudite, but Four declines. The next morning, the three leave Factionless for Candor to meet up with the remaining Dauntless; during the trek, Caleb tells his sister Tris that he cannot continue with them and goes in a different direction. Upon arrival, Tris and Four are arrested and brought before Candor leader Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim), who intends to deliver them to Jeanine. However, Four pleads for Jack to conduct a trial in Candor with the use of truth serum. During the trial, Four communicates his motives and is absolved. Tris tearfully admits her guilt in shooting and killing Will, which angers Christina.
Candor is attacked by the Dauntless who have sided with Eric, and many people are shot with pellets of new simulation serum. Tris is captured by Eric who learns she has a Divergence reading of 100%, making her the perfect subject to open the box. Eric arrests Tris, but Four and the Factionless allies arrive to save her. After a brief exchange, Four shoots Eric in the head for the murder of hundreds of people. Back at Erudite, Jeanine, frustrated that none of the Divergent subjects have survived the simulation trials required to open the box, is approached by Peter, who pledges his loyalty to Erudite, and suggests the best way to get Tris to surrender is by exploiting her humanity.
Back at the Factionless base, Four reluctantly agrees with Evelyn that war is inevitable and that they need to prepare. Jeanine activates the pellets, causing Christina, Marlene and Hector to repeatedly chant that Tris must turn herself in or more death will follow, as they step closer and closer to the edge of a tall structure. Tris and Tori then climb the sides of the roof as Tris rescues Christina and Tori, Hector. However, Marlene plunges to her death. Overcome by guilt, Tris decides to turn herself in. That night, she and Four sleep together, and then she quietly slips away.
Upon arrival at the Erudite headquarters, Tris is immediately arrested. She agrees to undergo the trials provided that the suicides cease. Tris overcomes four of the trials, however, when her vitals drop, Jeanine reluctantly halts the simulation so that Tris can rest. Tris then discovers that they have captured Four. She fails the final trial and her vital signs cease. Her body is wheeled over to Four’s cell so the latter can mourn, but when she awakens, Peter assists Four in overpowering the guards, revealing that he had faked her death by injecting her with a sleep serum. Tris is determined to open the box and find the truth about its message; she and Four head to the simulation room, while Peter returns to the control room to secretly grant them security access.
Overcoming the final trial, Tris successfully opens the box. A woman explains that the walled city and faction system is actually an experiment they devised, that the Divergents are actually the success of the experiment, and that the world is waiting outside for them to return to humanity. Realizing she has lost all her power, Jeanine orders that the box be buried and that Four and Tris be executed. However, the Factionless army breaks into the simulation room to rescue Tris and Four. Jeanine and Caleb are arrested. The message from the box is broadcast to the entire city. Tris is hailed as a hero by the masses, eager to explore the world beyond the wall. As Jeanine looks out from her cell, she states that after 200 years since the city was enclosed, there is no telling what awaits them beyond it. Evelyn tells her that she will never find out and kills her.Insurgent is a fantastic follow up to Divergent, however I would recommend watching one after the other. Everyone was awesome in their roles, once again Kate and Shailene shone. But I also loved Octavia as she really showed what a true Amity leader would be like. I also loved when they went into Candor where Tris and Four were on trial. Props to Robert Schwentke for a perfect sequel that (like its predecessor) has you craving more.

REVIEW: DIVERGENT

CAST

Shailene Woodley (The Fault In Our Stars)
Theo James (Underworld 4)
Kate Winslet (Quills)
Ashley Judd (High Crimes)
Jai Courtney (Terminator Genysis)
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone)
Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Miles Teller (Fantastic Four)
Tony Goldwyn (Ghost)
Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver)
Maggie Q (The King of Fighters)
Mekhi Phifer (Lie To Me)

In a futuristic dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intellectual). The remaining population are the Factionless, who have no status or privilege in this society. When children reach the age of 16, they undergo a serum-induced psychological aptitude test which indicates their best-suited faction, though they are allowed to choose any faction as their permanent group at the subsequent Choosing Ceremony.

Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) was born into Abnegation, which runs the government. Her father, Andrew Prior (Tony Goldwyn), serves on the ruling council along with the head of Abnegation, Marcus Eaton (Ray Stevenson). Beatrice takes her test with a Dauntless woman named Tori Wu (Maggie Q) as her proctor. Her results show equal attributes of multiple factions, meaning she is Divergent. Her divergence includes Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless. Tori records her results as Abnegation and warns her to keep the true result a secret, saying that because Divergents can think independently the government cannot control them and they are considered threats to the existing social order.

The next day at the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice’s brother Caleb Prior (Ansel Elgort) chooses Erudite. After some indecision, Beatrice defects to Dauntless. After the ceremony, Beatrice meets Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Al (Christian Madsen), and Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), three other initiates from other factions who also chose Dauntless. Christina and Al are from Candor, and Will is from Erudite. The initiates’ commitment and fearlessness are immediately tested, and Eric Coulter (Jai Courtney), a brutal Dauntless leader, makes it clear that anyone not meeting Dauntless’ high expectations will be expelled from the faction to become Factionless. Beatrice is the first to volunteer for a leap of faith from a tall building into a dark hole, landing in a net. When Four (Theo James), a transfer initiates’ instructor, asks her name, she shortens it to “Tris” leaving her Abnegation childhood behind.

Tris initially struggles in Dauntless training, ranking far below the cutoff after the first evaluation, but with Four’s help slowly improves. Eric matches her against her nemesis — Peter (Miles Teller) in a fight. Tris is soundly defeated and wakes up in the infirmary. Informed that she will miss the most important test, Capture The Flag, Tris leaves the infirmary and joins the other initiates, secures her team’s victory, and makes the final cut.

In the next phase of training, the initiates face their worst fears in psychological simulations. Divergents are resistant to serums and simulations, so Tris excels at these tests, solving them in peculiar ways, but Four warns her to solve the challenges as a normal Dauntless would in order to hide her abilities. Tris visits Caleb, who tells her that Erudite is planning to overthrow Abnegation and become the ruling faction. On her return to Dauntless quarters, Tris is attacked by Al, Peter, and Drew before being rescued by Four. The next day Al pleads for Tris’ forgiveness but she refuses, calling him a coward. He later kills himself by jumping into “The Chasm” rather than live with the shame.

To prepare her for the final test, Four takes Tris into his own fear simulations, where she learns that he was Tobias Eaton, the son of Marcus Eaton. After the simulation, they kiss. Tris then passes her test and is officially initiated into Dauntless. The rest of the Dauntless are injected with a serum supplied by Erudite which is supposedly for tracking, but is actually for mind control. The next morning, the Dauntless prepare to execute Abnegations by the orders of the Erudites. Divergents are unaffected by the new serum, so Tris must blend in to avoid suspicion. She finds Four, who reveals himself as a Divergent. While the Dauntless move to raid Abnegation, Tris and Four separate from the group and attempt to locate Tris’ parents, but Eric realises Four is not under control and captures the two. Four is taken into custody while Tris is ordered to be executed. Her mother Natalie (Ashley Judd) appears and liberates her but is shot dead as they flee.

Tris finds her father in hiding with several Abnegations including Caleb and Marcus. The group sneaks into Dauntless headquarters, where Tris encounters Peter and forces him to lead them to Erudite’s control center. Her father sacrifices himself in a shootout, and Tris goes in alone to find Four, who is now under stronger mind control designed for Divergents and attacks her. Using her knowledge of his fears, she manages to wake him from the mind control and the two enter the central control room, where Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is about to have the Dauntless army execute the entire Abnegation faction. Tris uses a sample of the mind control serum on her to force her to cancel the program. The group escapes the compound and boards a train out of the complex.

A great start to a superb franchise. Unlike many science-fiction stories, the narrative is focused on the main character’s journey as she tries to identify where she fits in a post-war world. It is therefore fortunate the the main character is very well acted, and this film is more about her journey than about the wider societal issues that form the ending. The film is also nicely grounded despite it being set centuries in the future, so there is little in the form of distracting CGI visuals. it’s refreshing to have a nicely fleshed out world that feels real.