Divergent Review

Divergents threaten the system. And good films.

Written by Logan Sharp

I’ve never read the Divergent books. While my wife was reading them, she was telling me about the story and it just did not interest me. I got the idea that all teen adventure books had flocked to this dystopian world theme that they were all the same. Now after seeing the film, I may consider picking up the book and giving it a read.

If you don’t know the story, Divergent is about a girl named Beatrice (later known as Triss), living in a dystopian Chicago with her family, serving the homeless and the community of people. In this dystopian Chicago, the city is separated into different factions: Abnegation (the selfless servants of the city; also the ones who run the government), Candor (the brutally honest ones that are usually lawyers), Erudite (the brainy nerds of society), Amity (the peaceful, hippy farmers) and Dauntless (the brave faction of Batmen and women). Much like the Hunger Games, there comes a day where the children of each faction take a terrifying aptitude test to be placed into a faction and then get to go with that faction or choose another.

Beatrice/Triss finds herself labeled a Divergent, someone whose test results report inconclusive or show all the factions. The government doesn’t like these pesky divergents because they “can’t be controlled”. Come Reapin–I mean, the day of faction choosing, Beatrice/Triss chooses to go with Dauntless and the movie takes off from there.

While the movie is a fun, entertaining ride, it suffers from giving away what is going to happen far too early.

While the movie is a fun, entertaining ride, it suffers from giving away what is going to happen far too early.  It could just be me but I found myself piecing things together in the story far too quickly. There is a point where the two main characters are watching the government drop off computers and chemicals, and some poorly timed exposition, that I figured out one of the big reveals at the end. I won’t spoil anything for those who have not read the book and plan on seeing the film but I will say several things are easy to see coming.

"Four's Gym of Boxing and Brooding"
“Four’s Gym of Boxing and Brooding”

Despite that, I found the story fascinating, even if it is similar to The Hunger Games in a few areas. The acting was surprisingly better than I had thought it would be and saw a few familiar faces from some of my favorite movies and TV shows show up in the movie. Plus, Mekhi Phifer leads Dauntless which is just “meh”. Although, I’d rather see Micah Jai White or Idris Elba leading Dauntless but Mekhi Phifer does an okay job of assuming a leader of a faction. I still remember him from his days on ER.

I don’t know where they found this Theo James guy but his role as Four was fun to watch. Four is a trainer/intelligence spy in Dauntless that exudes tough and experience soldier on screen. Despite being a discount James Franco (or is James Franco a discount Theo James?), he played the role well and I look forward to seeing him in the sequel.

I love that the movie tells girls that their bodies are theirs and they ultimately decide who does/doesn’t touch it and when the person doesn’t respect that, it’s time to kick them out (literally).

Shailene Woodley (the soon-to-be Mary-Jane Watson in The Amazing Spider-Man 3) plays Triss/Beatrice. To be honest, I was surprised how much I liked her. I found myself pulling for her character at times and cheered for her when she stood up for herself. Which brings me to a particular scene in the film: the sexual assault scene. In the film, Triss undergoes a test where she is put in a trance as she has to fight through her fears inside her mind. One of the fears she encounters is her new flame, Four, pushing their relationship too far and trying to have sex with her. These scenes fill me with rage but I was surprised to see Tris fight back, quite well might I add and then the people observing her congratulate her as she comes to. I love that the movie tells girls that their bodies are theirs and they ultimately decide who does/doesn’t touch it and when the person doesn’t respect that, it’s time to kick them out (literally).

"I'm in a glass case of emotion!"
“I’m in a glass case of emotion!”

I found myself a little frustrated with the story, however. There were a few times where I simply did not understand the character’s decisions. For example, Four and Triss see the government off-loading this suspicious equipment into the Dauntless faction’s base but just watch them do it. If they would have taken a closer look, possibly sabotaging the equipment, they could have avoided the intense, action-packed third half of the film. SPOILER: I didn’t understand why Triss’ mother didn’t tell her she was from Dauntless originally and maybe, I don’t know, be a good parent and encourage her kid that it’s okay to go to Dauntless so she doesn’t feel like a total jerk? How did she even wind up in Abnegation to begin with? Did she switch when she got married? How did she even meet a dude from Abnegation? The reveal didn’t make sense to me and it’s implications were even more confusing.

Overall, despite my complaints, I really enjoyed the film. More than I thought I would. Honestly, I may like it more than The Hunger Games films and I’ve read those books. Fans of the Divergent book will probably really enjoy seeing these characters come to life. People who have never read the book, but enjoy stuff like The Hunger Games, will enjoy this as well. Plus, if you want to earn brownie points with your girlfriend, guys: take her to see this.

Divergent may not be the best film ever, with predictable plot points, solid acting and weird story reveals but it is an entertaining and fun ride.

I give Divergent a 7.5 out of 10.


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