Posted March 29, 2014 by editor in Film Reviews

Divergent Review


In a post apocalyptic future – the city of Chicago has a large wall built around it to keep the city safe. Society itself has been conditioned so that people follow a certain code beyond the age of 16. At that stage you take a test that determines where in society you belong. Out of the five main areas there are Abnegation (The selfless who devote their lives to helping others), Candor (Those that see and speak only the truth), Amity (Peace and Harmony), Erudite (The smart) and Dauntless (The fearless).

Trior Prior was born in Abnegation, but yearns to be Dauntless. Upon hearing the result of her test she is shocked to learn that she actually shares qualities from several areas which makes her Divergent. Sadly Divergent is classed as dangerous – so fearful of the worst, at her graduation ceremony she decides to pick Dauntless as that is where her heart lies.

From here she leaves her home ground to directly join other recruits for Dauntless. Forced into a gruelling training scheme right from the get go, Tris is forced to try her hardest to hide her secret but also pass the tests in order to stay (Failure to stay above average means getting kicked out). So a series of the physical and mental tests are applied by the leaders.

She meets a few allies along the way, and naturally has a run in with Four (Theo James) who she takes a bit of a shine to. But all is not as it seems in the outside world, and Tris’ problems are only just the beginning.

The film has some really daft ideas about fitting in. The Dauntless sector that we are lumbered with for the majority of the film has literally zero logic to it. There are over 30 new recruits, but apparently only half of them will pass and be allowed to stay based on who scores high. Surely if everyone excels then everyone should pass?  Or if everyone is naff then they should all fail?  No!  It’s all done by who simply has the highest scores (we can only imagine they have only so many available apartments that year for full timers).

Also there is a particularly stupid moment where a trainer tells a trainee to stand in front of a board while someone else throws knives at them as a test of daring. Last time we checked it was always a stupid idea to stand in front of someone who throws knives at you, therefore points should probably be awarded for being smart and refusing to do such a task. But this is a balls and no brain world.

The tweeny crowd out there may have a while to wait for the next instalment of The Hunger Games – but aiming to fill the gap in the mean time is Divergent. To its credit there are some compelling ideas at play – but you must really buy into the set up first before you can even consider going along with it.

Divergent succeeds where the likes of other teen aimed adaptations like The Mortal Instruments and Beautiful Creatures have perhaps failed. Sure the music, the pretty faces and the basic drama is amid at that audience – but there is enough focus and surprises along the way that help.

Don’t get us wrong – the premise is so daft you’d wonder how the project ever came about (as a book or a film) – But it is used as a diving board to explore greater more universal themes that work enough to generate interest in sequels.

3 Stars




Steven Hurst