Based on the international bestseller of the same name, Divergent tells the story of a futuristic dystopian world where the people are divided into five factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). The Erudite are being the most intelligent are the one to lead the way in research and discovering a way of life. The Abnegations are full of compassion and love and are taught to put others ahead of their own selves. So they are entrusted with governance. The Dauntless are fearless and powerful and hence serve to protect all lives inside the boundaries. The Amity are easy folks who are responsible for growing food and feeding one and all while The Candor controls the justice system.
In this world one may choose whichever faction one wants to be a part of but once you have made your choice it becomes impossible to turn back, to help the citizen decide what faction they fit best in, there are tests designed which every subject must take. During one such test, our protagonist Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) discovers that she has the qualities of all the factions and so she is what they call a Divergent. Now the rules are strict and straightforward. If you are a Divergent then you are an outcast. Beatrice goes against her parents’ wishes and chooses to be a Dauntless and not Abnegation.
Her training begins and within a short period of time she realizes that The Dauntless might not be her cup of tea. The odds are high because if she gets cut from the Dauntless, she will be left Faction-less and an outcast. She gets help from an instructor called Four(Theo James) who seems to share not only a likeness but also many other characteristics with Beatrice who is now known as Tris. As the story progresses, the balance of power among the Factions start swinging as the intellectually superior Erudite start plotting to overthrow the Abnegation from governance and take it over themselves. However to do so they need the armies of the Dauntless. As Beatrice reaches the pinnacle of her training, her destiny clashes with the political scenario of the state as she proves to be the lone person left standing to work as a beacon for the Dauntless and stop Erudite from literally wiping off the Abnegation from the world.
Unlike what many would have expected from the trailer, Divergent is more of a stylistic drama then an action film. I felt that it served the film well to cut short on the action and concentrate more on the drama unfolding in the political scenario of the land as well as the inner sanctums of the Dauntless. The story unfolds at a brisk pace and quickly jumps from one point to the other. While the first half is all about setting up the premise and taking us through the process of Beatrice discovering her abilities, the second half concentrates on the planned invasion and how that is negated by Beatrice.
The action is equally distributed among the two halves not letting the drama getting to your nerves. Every time you feel restless or overdone with the drama, a brisk spate of action wets your appetite and brings you back to the basic premise of the film. The performances are a worthy of accolades. Shailene Woodley leads form the front. It was so easy for her to become another “Katniss Everdeen” but thankfully she finds her own footing and paints the character in her own image. What is most impressive is the fact that she makes quite an impact in the action sequences. Theo James is rollicking in a role which his every man’s dream. He is the perfect foil to the character of Beatrice and the two strikes up a marvelous chemistry. Kate Winslet as the leader of the Erudite is perfectly hateable.
The main criticism of the film was its generic execution and predictable plot. Bruce Diones of The New Yorker called it, “barely diverting”, and Jordan Adler of We Got This Covered said it was a, “plodding and generic dystopian drama”. One has to agree to a certain degree with those views but it cannot be ignored that the film is highly entertaining and does complete justice to the story that it sets out to relate. Coupled together with the bravura performances from the cast and some interesting twists and turns and you have yourself an interesting Teen-SciFi film in the line of The Hunger Games. Divergent is entertaining and if that is what you seek then this film will amuse you.