Star Rating:


Director: Neil Burger

Actors: Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Theo James

Release Date: Monday 30th November -0001

Genre(s): Action, Sci-Fi

Running time: 139 minutes

Here we go with another dystopian fantasy trilogy adaptation, the third of which, Allegiant, is sure to be split into two parts. But with its first instalment coming in at almost two and a half hours the story already feels drawn out.

In the near future society is divided into five ‘factions’, one of which must be chosen upon reaching sixteen. But Tris (Shailiene Woodley) is ‘Divergent’, one of those who don’t conform, whose minds operate independently of this hive-like culture. So she goes against her parents’ ruling faction and picks Dauntless, the brave ones that operate as the city’s police in the hope of hiding her uniqueness from Erudite, the ‘intelligent’ faction who plan to hunt down Divergents and take over the city. Luckily for Tris, her Dauntless instructor (James) is strong, handsome, understands the importance of hair products, and wears tight vests…

Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) is willing to stand where director Burger (Limitless) tells her to stand and say the lines in the script but seems unsure as to who Tris is. She looks confused and you can’t blame her as there is a smidgen of inconsistency here. She picks Dauntless because they look fun, they’re smiling faces ghosting past her as they race to another rescue. They run everywhere. And jump on and off things all the time. Hooray! But once she signs up Dauntless turn into a tough military outfit, with a ruthlessness that would shame Sparta. It’s all so serious. And Miles Teller is in her ear that she’s going to flunk out and - gasp! - be ‘factionless’, like the zombie-like drifters knocking about the streets. But aren’t Divergents technically ‘factionless’ too? You’d be confused as well.

Similar to Ender’s Game, most of the action takes place in either training sessions or simulations, which pose no threat to the heroine. No threat at all. That kind of kills any tension, doesn’t it. The use of pop music (Ellie Goulding, Snow Patrol, M83) is embarrassing, coming in at the worst times.

To be fair, “The future belongs to those who know where they belong,” spouted by Kate Winslet, the face of Erudite, is an interesting theme to investigate, and Divergent undercuts the initial quasi fascist leanings by showing what happens when a public army is used for private purposes.

Divergent’s biggest failing, however, is that it’s just not any fun. And it should be.