run time: 139 mins
considered: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Kate Winslet, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Christian Madsen, Amy Newbold.
movie summary: Divergent is based on the best-selling book series by Veronica Roth set in a futuristic world where a great war has changed every facet of human life. The way people think, act, and live their lives are now under constant surveillance. Everyone must take a personality test to find out what kind of traits they offer to society which has now been divided into five factions. The “selfless people” are in the Abnegation group while the “peaceful people” are in the Amity group. The “intelligent people” are grouped together in Erudite while the “truthful people” are in the Candor group. The last group, which has the responsibility of protecting the city because of their “bravery traits” is Dauntless.
Our story follows the life of Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) who has grown up in the Abnegation but is about to take the personality test to determine her future. The test is taken very seriously with results that are final, even though the person has the free will to choose a different faction if they want. Beatrice goes into her test only to get rushed out the back door because her results are inconclusive and that could mean lots of trouble if the wrong people found out. People who don’t register any particular traits from one of the five is called a divergent. The next day at the choosing ceremony Beatrice chooses Dauntless because she doesn’t fear anything and feels that is where she belongs. Right after the ceremony she is rushed to the train station where she hops on the Dauntless train car and travels out of the city. She meets the Dauntless trainer Eric (Jai Courtney) who doubts her as a new recruit and his second in command Four (Theo James) who will help her throughout her training.
The new recruits jump from the moving train before going through the first phrase of initiation by jumping four stories into a secret Dauntless entry where combat training begins. Beatrice is told to choose a new name so she becomes Tris. Tris struggles in training because she is physically weak and the threat of being cut and factionless adds to her stress. There are 30 recruits but only 20 make the cut, should any of them fail they can’t return to their home faction and are left factionless for life. Four takes a personal interest in Tris and begins to train her which leads the two to form a bond both personally and professionally. Tris doesn’t pass her final fight test, ends up in the hospital after the horrible beat down, and then cut from Dauntless. She manages to rejoin the group after releasing herself from the hospital when they are about to start a real gun fire game of capture the flag. She leads her team to victory by capturing Eric’s team’s flag, who is impressed with her skill set that was not revealed during training. He grants her an exception and allows her to continue on.
Four prepares Tris for her final exam which is a mental test about fears and how to solve problems by thinking like a Dauntless. Of course she has no fears which Four realizes and questions. He agrees to join her inside the practice test and show her the way to pass the test so she doesn’t draw attention to herself. Other recruits in the group begin to wonder how she manages to pass these tests so easily and plan an attack on her when Four shows up and saves her from getting killed. Tris moves into his room where they begin a romantic relationship before her big test day. Thanks to their preparation she is able to pass the test without revealing that she is a divergent.
The next day the recruits are officially sworn in as Dauntless and injected with a track monitor that turns out to be a mind control device. Four and Tris don’t share the same reaction as the rest of the group which means Four is a divergent too. In an attempt not to draw attention to themselves, the pair join their comrades as they board the train. Armed with loaded machine guns, Dauntless soldiers head to the city where their mission is to whip out the Abnegation faction before they cause an uprising and start another war. Tris’ parents still live in the faction which raises the stakes as she tries to rescue them and prevent this hostile take over by Jeanine (Kate Winslet), leader of the Erudite.
my thoughts: The trailer for Divergent did not get me excited to see this first of three movies, so I waited a few days after it opened to check it out. I was very impressed with the movie as the actors/actresses moved the story along at a great pace and provided non-stop action from start to finish. In a plot almost similar to the Hunger Games, Tris has a secret power that will propel her to be the leader and over throw a corrupt government. Sharliene Woodley is by far no Jennifer Lawrence, but she is more than capable of carrying this action packed franchise to superstardom. This first movie is just a lead for the next movie, which does a fantastic job of introducing the audience to a futuristic world where everything appears perfect on the outside but nothing really is what it seems on the inside. The movie and storyline is easy to follow for someone who hasn’t read the book/series and has likeable characters for the average movie goer to want to see more. The supporting cast lead by Theo James, Ashley Judd, and Jai Courtney portray their characters perfectly in terms of personality and storyline. Tris manages to make a few friends who double cross her, but one must assume that these Dauntless characters will have a bigger impact when things go sour (I assume) in the next film.
If you haven’t read the books or seen the movie yet, I’d recommend you find two and half hours of your day and head over to a theatre to enjoy this entertaining movie. Divergent won the weekend box office title on its opening weekend for a reason, it’s good.
my star rating: 7 out 10
imdb.com: 7.6 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 40% out 100%
metascore: 48 out 100