MMT Quick Review of ‘The Divergent Series: Insurgent’ and interview with Mekhi Phifer

Insurgent - Tris Portrait (photo: Lionsgate Publicity)

Happy Friday MMT Family!  With this latest MS episode (shout out to MS Awareness Month), I haven’t been able to screen many films – but I made it a point to go see the latest Divergent installment The Divergent Series: Insurgent and was fortunate enough to interview star Mekhi Phifer, who plays the Dauntless faction leader Max.

For those who don’t know the series, “Insurgent” is set in a futuristic, dystopian society where folk are divided into five factions based on their abilities, temperaments and personalities. Members of the Abnegation faction are identified as selfless, Amity are peaceful, Candor are honest, Dauntless are brave and Erudite are intelligent. People who display tendencies towards all five are labeled as Divergent, and considered a threat to society-at-large. Those who belong to no faction are known simply as Factionless. The audience is taken on the journey of protagonist Beatrice, Tris for short, who – since the first movie – has gone on the run with other “Divergents” and is trying to find sanctuary and evade capture.

Now, I’ll admit I have not read any of the books – but I’m in good company because Mekhi Phifer also hasn’t read them (see my Examiner interview here for his reason). However, I understand there have been some changes to this film, to better adapt the over 500 page novel to the big screen, and some are taking issue with those changes. The author of the books, Veronica Roth, responded to those critics in a Hollywood Reporter article saying, “Insurgent has the most complicated plot of the three books, and that the book-to-film changes make it so that the movie isn’t just constantly explaining itself to the audience.”

With that said, I enjoyed “Insurgent” and thought the CGI was fun and the action heart-stopping. I felt the story dragged a bit at a point, but I certainly was all-in once the story started moving again and Tris – played by Shailene Woodley – really had to woman up and face some hard truths – but no spoilers remember, so I’ll leave it there. 😉  If you’re a sci-fantasy lover, and aren’t influenced by the books or hard-pressed for the film to be exactly like them, I believe you will enjoy it as well. But for us folk who haven’t read the books, we are of course left with a major cliffhanger until the next installment arrives!

Insurgent - Max Portrait (photo: Lionsgate Publicity)Which brings me back to the Mekhi Phifer, lol!  When I asked him what attracted him to the film series and the role of Max he shared,

“I’ve never done a trilogy series before so it seemed like a lot of fun. I didn’t know where they were going to go with it. Usually I get a script, I know where my character is going to go. I have no idea what they’re doing to this character until I read the script. What attracted me was he was the leader of Dauntless, he had influential power and I felt he was an important character – and I thought it would be fun to do something different.”

Now, we’ve seen Mekhi in many films where he’s the good guy or the guy we love rooting for – the characters Mitch (Paid In Full) and Lem (Soul Food) are two of my favorites. But I read that he enjoys playing the bad guy, so I asked him why that was.

“If you’re an actor you don’t want to just play one thing. You want to diversify and do different things.  The fun thing about playing the bad guy is the moral compass can go out the window and you don’t necessarily follow a moral guideline. You can improvise and sort of “fly off the cuff” and it’s kind of fun to have the audience not know what you’re going to do. You’re not Dr. Do Right, so it makes it a little more edgy and it’s a lot of fun.”

Don’t worry MMT Fam, I also got in the signature question, and can you guess which musical artist Mekhi said he would love to portray in a film? “If could do any artist I would love to do Al Green.  I think he has a great story and a great journey that he’s gone on and I love his music – it’s iconic.”

The Divergent Series: Insurgent is out nationwide in theaters today, and I hear Lionsgate is sharing a Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 teaser in the coming attractions – so hint, hint fellow Hunger Games lovers!

In addition to the interview, Mr. Phifer was kind enough to record a short promo for my Walk MS campaign – I’ll share more on that and promos with other artists in a later post – but I’d sure appreciate your support in the meantime at teamwalkinbyfaith.org!

That’s it for me family, and you know the drill! Stop back and leave a thought or two after you see the film!

Until next thought, Thomasena

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