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Not recommended under 13; parental guidance strongly recommended 13-15 (Violence; disturbing scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Insurgent
  • a review of Insurgent completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 24 March 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to violence, and disturbing scenes and themes
Children 13-15 Parental guidance strongly recommended due to violence, and disturbing scenes and themes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Insurgent
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Science fiction themes and violence
Length: 119 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Insurgent picks up three days on from where the first film in this series, Divergent, ends. The film is set in an apocalyptic future where survivors are separated into five Factions with each faction processing unique abilities and temperaments: Erudite(intelligent), Amity(peaceful), Dauntless(brave), Candour(honest) and Abnegation (selfless). The five factions live within or around the ruined remains of what was once Chicago. A sixth faction referred to as Factionless exists with its members branded as renegades. Within the Factionless group are individuals referred to as Divergent who possess multiple Faction characteristics and are considered to be danger to society.  

The film begins with Divergent renegade Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) along with Faction-less renegades Four (Theo James), Tris’s brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Peter (Miles Teller) holed up with the peaceful Amity faction. But their peace is short lived because Erudite Faction leader Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) orders the rounding up of all Divergents and troops overrun Amity, forcing Tris, Four, Caleb and Peter to go on the run. We learn that Jeanine has recovered a five-sided box bearing the seal of each Faction on one of its five sides. Jeanine believes that the box contains a hidden message that can restore order to their divided society, but only a very powerful Divergent can open the box by undergoing a series of five SIMS (virtual reality simulations) which to date no Divergent has survived.

After escaping the troops and becoming separated from Caleb and Peter, Tris and Four make their way to the heart of the ruins of Chicago where they meet up with a large band of Factionless renegades lead by Four’s mother Evelyn (Naomi Watts). Evelyn wants Four and Tris to join a rebellion against Jeanine and the Erudite Faction.

However, Jeanine forces Tris to give herself up and submit to the SIMS experiment in a bid to unlock the secrets of the box. This results in unexpected outcomes that change things forever.         


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Social engineering; totalitarian government; betrayal and revenge; mass murder; death of a parent

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains intense action violence and peril throughout, including execution-style killings, some battle violence, violence against children, and some blood and gore. Examples include:

  • A young woman dreams she sees her mother and father lying dead on the ground, their faces and clothes covered in blood, and she hears a woman telling her that she killed an entire caste of people. Later, the young woman dreams that her boyfriend lying next to her in bed is dead with a cut throat and blood covering his neck.
  • A young woman attacks a young man, punching him in the face and body and then slashing wildly at him with a knife.  She pins him to the ground and holds the hunting knife to his throat. The fight is stopped when a second man restrains her.
  • In one perilous scene, a young man in an attempt to outrun a group of soldiers pursuing him jumps across railway tracks in front of a speeding freight train which narrowly misses him.
  • During a fight on a train between two groups of young people, a woman’s head is smashed into the side of the carriage and later we see her being choked with her head hanging out of the train carriage in danger of being hit by a passing train. A man throws another from the train and one man has his arm thrust through the side of the train carriage and it is caught on a pole as the train passes - we hear a loud snapping sound and hear him scream. One man is stabbed repeatedly in the stomach and another is savagely clubbed.
  • We hear a young woman tell how she had to shoot and kill her male friend when the friend while under the influence of a mind control drug attempted to shoot and kill her..
  • A large group of soldiers attack a building occupied by a large number of civilians. A man shoots several soldiers and is shot dead in return; no blood is depicted. Dozens of civilians are shot by soldiers and men, woman and children lie dead and injured on the ground.      
  • In one scene we see a soldier shoot an unarmed man in the forehead. The man falls to the ground and we see his body lying on the ground; no blood and gore is depicted. In a later scene a woman approaches another woman from behind and shoots her in the head.
  • In one scene a young woman threatens to shoot herself in the head by pointing a handgun to her temple. She stops when her brother walks into the room.
  • In one scene a young girl (six-years-old) is shot by soldiers and we see what looks like the head of a bullet (a mind control device) sticking out of her neck. She is handcuffed and forced to kneel on the ground. A soldier standing in front of the young girl points a gun to her head, threatening to shoot her and begins to pull the gun’s trigger. He is prevented from shooting the young girl when a  woman tackles him to the ground. 

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children under eight would be disturbed by much of this movie. As well as the violent scenes described above there are many other disturbing scenes, including:

  • In one scene we see a woman in a room suspended from the ceiling by a series of tentacle-like black tubes that appear to be inserted into her body. She convulses and we hear the sound of bones breaking and see blood oozing from the corner of her mouth. Eventually the woman stops convulsing and we hear a second woman say that the woman is no longer viable. 
  • A young woman imagines she sees her mother in a burning room floating in the air. She jumps off a building and into the burning room which begins to tip over, causing the young woman to slide along the side of the burning building and almost fall to her death. The mother falls from the room but her daughter pulls her to safety.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

See above

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the violent and disturbing scenes described above.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the violent and disturbing scenes described above.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • One scene depicts a young woman and man kissing passionately on the lips. She sits on his lap on a bed, unzips her vest and removes her shirt to reveal her bare back. The couple kiss again and the scene cuts to them lying in bed next to each other, naked but covered by bed cloths with only their naked shoulders revealed.
  • We see a young girl naked in the shower; only the top of her shoulders are revealed.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • One scene depicts wine in wine glasses on a dinner table; no drinking occurs.
  • Truth serum being injected into the side of two people’s necks; the gun-like syringes have long needle attached.
  • In one scene a young woman is injected in the back with a knockout drug.   

Coarse language

The film contains occasional coarse language. Examples include:

  • In one scene a young man mumbles the word “fuck” which is heard as “fu..”
  • “shit”; “I’ll be damned”; “bullshit”
  • Name calling such as “dumb”, “crazy”, “stiff” and “meathead”.

In a nutshell

Insurgent is the second film in the Divergent Series, based on the popular series of books. It is a science fiction thriller targeted at adolescents and adults. The many intensely violent and disturbing scenes make the film unsuitable for children and parental guidance is strongly recommended for younger teens, some of whom may have read and enjoyed the books.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Self-sacrifice should be seen as strength not a weakness.
  • Differences between people are vital for humanity and society to survive and develop.

Parents may wish to discuss the situation in which the film’s lead character is place in a position where she must kill another person in order to save a life and must then live with her conscience.