Matt Adcock’s film review: Divergent efficiently pushes the Hunger Games buttons for fans of teenagers being tested
“You’re different. You don’t fit into a category. They can’t control you. They call it Divergent. You can’t let them find out about you.”
Coming in hard on the dystopian future/young adult buzz that The Hunger Games has generated is Divergent, based on a hugely popular series of novels Veronica Roth.
And much like the other films aimed to include an adolescent audience the core theme is ‘finding yourself and your place in life’…
Divergent doesn’t have a Harry Potter sorting hat but it does have the ‘test’ where everyone in society is analysed and placed into one of five possible class systems or factions – the selfless ‘Abnegation’, the peace loving ‘Amity’, the utterly honest ‘Candor’, the highly intelligent ‘Erudite’ or the bad ass and brave ‘Dauntless’.
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Heroine of this future utopia is Tris (Shailene ‘The Descendants’ Woodley) whose family are all Abnegation - the faction that run the government.
We join the action as Tris and her brother Caleb (Ansel ‘Carrie’ Elgort) are tested and both decide to change factions – Tris to become a Dauntless and Caleb an Erudite.
We then follow Tris, who is very much a Hunger Games Katniss-alike, training and fighting to prove that she can make the grade in the brutal new environment in which she finds herself.
The thing is that her test results weren’t conclusive and she is in fact what the authorities call a ‘divergent’ – someone with character traits across different factions – and a potential threat to the authorities, personified by the charismatic evil leader Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet). As the plot progresses we find out that there is shady business afoot with the Erudite faction, looking to overthrow Abnegation and use Dauntless to do so. Might Tris be destined to play a decisive part in the upcoming struggle?
Director Neil ‘Limitless’ Burger sets about the future action with a cool, measured pace, bringing stylish set pieces and even some emotional depth that helps when there are character deaths.
To keep the teenie females happy there is a prerequisite smouldering love interest for Tris in Four (Theo James) who becomes her ‘mentor with benefits’.
Divergent delivers a quality, engaging cinematic thrill ride which should please all ages and leave you looking forward to the sequel which hits our screens next year, albeit in the lesser directorial hands of Robert ‘R.I.P.D.’ Schwentke.