Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Director: Neil Burger
Running Time: 137 mins
Divergent is an American film about a future dystopian world where society is decided into various factions, and on the day when young Tris must choose her faction, she discovers an unexpected truth about herself that will leave her as the beginning of a revolution against faction-based society and the oppressive government that enforces it.
So, I’m going to say what everyone else has said about this film: it’s a knock-off Hunger Games. It follows so many of the same story lines as that saga, but it doesn’t do any of them as well. This, instead of being the dramatic, political sci-fi thriller that it wants to be, is in fact a very generic young adult story that feels almost more like a high school/Twilight movie more than a dystopian thriller.
So, let’s start with the whole premise of this film. A dystopian future where society is divided into various factions, where one girl will break the rules to become the leader of a revolution against an oppressive regime. (Sound familiar?) However, from the beginning, this did have promise, mainly with regards to the faction idea.
In comparison to The Hunger Games, where people are just in their districts because of geographical and social divides, the idea of the choosing of a faction in this society and the social mobility, betrayal and conflict that could come with it was absolutely fascinating to me. However, the problem is that this descends into the realms of teenage girl fantasies, where all the factions are more like cliques based on who’s cool or not, and it didn’t emphasise enough on the political and social impacts of the faction system.
The film also tries to create an individualistic message underneath by having its main character (who is played very well by Shailene Woodley) be a Divergent (i.e. doesn’t fit in anywhere). However, it doesn’t really do very well with this, as it’s pretty hypocritical towards this idea, due to the fact that it follows a very generic and predictable young adult story that doesn’t do anything to impress this idea of true individualism on you.
As well as the failed story and premise, this film just doesn’t work in being an exciting thing to witness or be engrossed in. The main character is slightly interesting, but nowhere near as strong as the leads in The Hunger Games, whilst the world that’s created on screen is very boring, with an urban environment that looks too nice to be a properly oppressive society, yet too dull to be anything futuristic, exciting or original that you want to marvel at.
Finally, the performances in this film aren’t good at all either. Although Shailene Woodley held her own in the central role, supporting players such as Kate Winslet, Miles Teller, Theo James and many others really don’t feel like they’re putting everything into their characters. Admittedly, their characters are quiet dull, but so is Woodley’s to an extent, so they fail to really inject any life into these people like the lead actress does.
Overall, this gets a 5.0 from me, mostly due to its problems with regards to the premise, its hypocritical central message, lack of originality and excitement and poor performances.