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'Insurgent' amps up the action

The sequel to ‘Divergent’ raises the ass-kicking stakes. The producers walk us through how they made that happen.

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Andrew Cooper

At the end of last year’s Divergent, we did not leave Tris (Shailene Woodley) in good shape. Her parents had been murdered in front of her, and she was left factionless and forced to go on the run with Four (Theo James), her Dauntless instructor/ love interest. Now, in Insurgent, the second installment of the franchise based on Veronica Roth’s best-selling young-adult trilogy, Tris and Four must battle the alliance (headed by Kate Winslet) that threatens their existence.

In the pivotal scene shown here in both storyboards and film stills, Tris, Four, and Tris’ brother, Caleb (Ansel Elgort), have found sanctuary among the peaceful faction Amity. They’ve only just caught their breath—and Tris has cut off all her hair—when they’re discovered by Eric (Jai Courtney) and other enemy soldiers. “This is when the movie explodes,” says the film’s producer Doug Wick. “It’s a critical turn.”

Andrew Cooper

1. Our protagonists make a run for it, only to decide, when forced, to fight back. It’s also where we get to see Woodley and James kick some serious ass. “Shailene is the kind of actor who, anything you ask of her, she’ll make real,” says Wick. “She’s fearless.”

Andrew Cooper

2. Case in point: Woodley did some of her own hand-to-hand combat, as in this shot, where Tris takes out an enemy Dauntless soldier with the handle of his own gun.

Andrew Cooper

3. Both James and Woodley preferred to do as much of their own stunt work as possible, including jumps and wirework. Woodley was into it all, but at the start of production in May of last year the new stunt coordinator, who hadn’t worked on the first film, had his doubts, says producer Lucy Fisher. “When he first met her he said, ‘Oh, she’s so slim. I don’t know if she’ll be able to do such intense fighting,'” Fisher says, laughing. “We said, ‘Oh, you so don’t know Shai.'”