Divergent is one of those post-apocalyptic dramas.. dystopian near-future, blah blah blah… and in this one, the war has forced the government to segregate everyone into one of five factions: Erudite – the place for all the clever-clogs; Amity – the ones who like to plow the field and scatter; Candor – those who always tell the truth; Dauntless – the protectors, who like to climb up buildings to keep the peace; and the one which our heroine and narrator Tris (Shailene Woodley) inhabits, Abnegation – those who live a pastroal existence and don’t fit in anywhere else. They’re also left to make up the government.
However, Tris is one of those who don’t even manage to fit in that faction, and so are classed as ‘Divergent’.
Once they have taken the test to see where they fit in, they have to make a choice in case they want to change to a different faction – a bit like Mike Read’s Runaround, where you get to change your mind at the last minute. Stupid thing is, they don’t tick a box on a form, they slice their hand open and drop blood into one of five pots. What if, like me, they’re on Warfarin? You bleed enough without all that!
Anyhoo, when they’ve made their choice, it’s time for training and this part of the film seems to go on forever. We’ve already experienced this endlessness in the Hunger Games, so we don’t need to see it here, too. In fact, this is yet another film that lasts longer than two hours but really doesn’t need to do so.
The training is led by hard-nuts Eric (Jai Courtney) and Four (Theo James), and no-one likes them when they’re being put through their paces. Do they have a hidden agenda or are they just like those bastard gym teachers from school? Now, now, Dom, you’re reading far too much into it. Just assume they’re the baddies.
In Divergent, everyone lives in communes – they all wear the same uniform, they don’t appear to have collected any personal belongings throughout their lives… and so on. It’s one step up from a POW camp.
The audience is spoonfed what little plot there is, with various characters spelling it out line by line, over and over, for the hard of thinking.
There’s precious little of merit on display, here, other than the fact it shows a glimpse of promise early on. What a shame it completely throws that down the pan. I was also looking forward to the appearances of Dexter‘s Ray Stevenson as Marcus, the leader of Abagnacion, and Kate Winslet – not quite President Snow – as Jeanine, who’s meant to be in charge of the whole shebang, but for a great portion of the film they’re completely absent! What a shame.
There’s similarly blink and you’ll miss it appearances from Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn as Tris’ parents, E.R.‘s Mekhi Phifer doing God knows what in the background, but Zoë Kravitz makes the best of a bad lot as Christina, the girl Tris makes friends with once she makes her faction choice.
Divergent is predictable, it’s humourless, the dialogue is stilted, it’s bleak as a whole without anything to redeem itself and no doubt it’ll be lapped up by teenage girls who enjoyed the original novel by Veronica Roth. And it’s thanks to them that the sequel, Insurgent, will be released the same time next year.
Running time: 139 minutes
Released: April 4th 2014
Format: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (2.8K))
Director: Neil Burger
Producers: Lucy Fisher, Pouya Shabazian and Douglas Wick
Screenplay: Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor (based on the novel by Veronica Roth)
Music: Junkie XL
Tris: Shailene Woodley
Four: Theo James
Natalie: Ashley Judd
Eric: Jai Courtney
Marcus: Ray Stevenson
Christina: Zoë Kravitz
Peter: Miles Teller
Andrew: Tony Goldwyn
Caleb: Ansel Elgort
Tori: Maggie Q
Max: Mekhi Phifer
Jeanine: Kate Winslet
Will: Ben Lloyd-Hughes
Al: Christian Madsen
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.