Director: Neil Burger
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Miles Teller, Maggie Q, Kate Winslet, Tony Goldwyn
Based on the book by Veronica Roth, Neil Burger delivers a captivating young adult movie which could have been a huge hit if it had been released before The Hunger Games.
Every year 16-year-olds take a test to decide which of the five factions they should belong to: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). This is what is told but then it turns out that people who possess characteristics from multiple groups can’t be controlled by the government and are labelled as Divergent’s. Which means that there are six. Which still isn’t true as there are the factionless, people who didn’t fit into any group, and so it can be said that there are seven.. For some reason this is only true in Chicago (maybe this will be explained in the other movies) as a war has destroyed the rest of the world and a wall erected around the city. This gives the feeling of Judge Dredd straight away as the confined space is ruled by a governing body that people can choose to be a part of, Erudite, and another body acts as the police, the Dauntless. This makes for a confusing opening couple of minutes.
The film focuses on Tris (Woodley), a member of Abnegation that is revealed to be a Divergent during her test by Tori (Maggie Q). Tris leaves behind her parents (Judd & Goldwyn) by choosing to be Dauntless and the film follows her training whilst she tries to become one. As the film progresses recruits are kicked out group by group until only the elite survive. Guided by Four (James) and constantly knocked back by Eric (Courtney), Tris advances past the physical trials after doing battle with her enemy Peter (Teller) and accidentally reveals to Four that she is a Divergent whilst preparing for the mental challenge. Four helps her, reveals that he is a Divergent, and the two realise that they have romantic feelings for each other. Tris learns from her brother that the leader of Erundite (Winslet) is plotting to overthrow Abnegation and become the ruling class and so she and Four have to pretend to be Dauntless when a mind control serum is distributed, a serum that turns everyone into a ruthless assassin. An uprising ensues, Tris’ family die, and Erundite is overthrown by Tris & Four. The film closes with Tris, her brother, Four, his father (Stevenson), and Peter leaving the city behind.
IS IT ANY GOOD?
What exactly is so bad about being a Divergent? It seems as if they can find alternate solutions to problems and that’s it. It isn’t explained why they can’t be controlled by the government and they’re so good at hiding it that by the end of the film it isn’t clear who is and who isn’t one. So much about this movie is bad but it still remains enjoyable. The majority of the film just leads up to the ending which is over in the blink of an eye. A lot of the film doesn’t make sense and leads to a lot of unanswered questions. Who is Maggie Q’s character and why does she want to help Tris? If the Abnegation’s don’t believe in vanity and, as such, don’t look in the mirror, then why do they have mirrors in there homes? There’s even a scene where Tris wakes up from a dream to only be in another dream. This idea should be banned from movies as it’s what ten year old’s include in their stories. Admittedly the film does stay true to what stereotypically happens in society as the sixteen-year-old Tris gets a tattoo of a bird with no explanation around why she got it or if it is meant to symbolise anything. Woodley isn’t going to become an audience favourite with this performance as throughout the film her expression gives the impression that she is about to burst into tears. If she can overcome this then the next few films shall be a lot better.
The actors are fun and have been cast well. Teller is fast becoming a big name in Hollywood and this is his first major movie which isn’t a comedy. His character is evil and it’s amazing, even though it is uncertain why he becomes good having got shot at the end. Courtney has been hated by a lot of people as an actor since the fiasco that was A Good Day to Die Hard but here is a character that the audience can love to hate. Though the plot is weak, there is potential for far more from the future movies, though, without reading the books, it is unclear in which direction this will go.
Unlike The Hunger Games, the sequel won’t be exactly the same movie. If this was released before The Hunger Games then it would have done a lot better at the Box Office (it still grossed around $300 million) due to the plots being remarkably the same: young people who select/ get selected to join up, there’s training involved so that they can progress, the overall leader is the villain, the female accomplishes what she set out to do and falls in love with the boy from the same group.
Divergent follows in the likes of Twilight, Harry Potter, and, of course, The Hunger Games, making the final book in the series into two movies. There is a lot that is left to be explained and, with three movies to be made, hopefully there will be one.