Certificate 12A, 139 minutes
Director: Neil Burger
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Divergent is based on the novel of the same name by Veronica Roth. It starts off being narrated by Beatrice, later Tris (Shailene Woodley) who gives the background to the current setting. It is set in a Chicago of at least 100 years in the future, after the events of some sort of devastating war. The city is partly ruined, with many of the remaining buildings covered in some sort of turbines, and is surrounded by an enormous wall combined with an electrified fence.
People have a test to see what faction they best fit into, although they can also make their own choice. Once a choice is made, there is no going back - the only way left is to become factionless. This is a fairly rigid caste system, with the problems that such systems tend to incur.
Tris is part of the Abnegation faction, but she finds appeal in Dauntless. When she undergoes the test, it proves inconclusive, something that rarely happens. It means that she is what is known as Divergent. The head of the Erudite faction, Jeanine (Kate Winslet, Contagion, Triple 9) considers Divergents a threat to the entire system, and should be treated that way. Tris joins Dauntless instead of Abnegation and, along with her fellow recruits, has to undergo a series of test run by the rather sadistic Eric (Jai Courtney, A Good Day to Die Hard, I, Frankenstein) and the rather more likeable, if unusually named, Four (Theo James).
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The society depicted doesn't make a huge amount of sense. The factions all appear to be similar in size, and the factionless don't do anything, yet each of these factions is responsible for doing specific things, so who does everything that isn't covered by a faction's responsibility, such as manufacturing? There are comparatively large numbers of lawyers, but no-one to apparently make things.
Why have they fenced in all of Chicago, despite not appearing to have anywhere near the population required to justify it yet, apparently, left all their food production outside the wall? If it's as potentially dangerous outside as is made out, leaving their farmers there, apparently unprotected, when there is plenty of room inside the wall that isn't being used, makes little sense. Perhaps some of these things will be explained in the next in the series.
The story is rather predictable in how it unfolds, and how relationships develop. You can see some things coming from a long way off. It also takes a long, long time to actually get to the final climax, getting on for two hours into it. There are lots of examples of Tris and her fellow Dauntless initiates undergoing some training, followed by more training, followed by yet more training and topped off with a bit of training to finish, to the extent that you wonder if there is anything more to this or, at least, whether it is going to be covered by this film, and not a sequel, because there are certainly things that are expected to happen, yet take a long, long time to do so.
The two lead actors don't do a bad job, but really they have very little to work with. Many of the other characters are eminently forgettable. Divergent may appeal more to young adults, but others are unlikely to find as much appeal in it, although it was successful enough to result in a sequel.