Divergent is bursting with potential but never seems to shine. It’s a film backed by an effectively nuanced lead performance by Shailene Woodley, along with a strong supporting cast that produces a sense of urgency about this post-apocalyptic world. The story centers around Tris (Shailene Woodley), a young girl who lives in a world divided by factions based on virtues. You choose your faction when you are of age, and 95% of children align with the faction in which they grow up. But Tris is “divergent,” which means she received multiple factions when she took her test. She chooses Dauntless, a militaristic group of people who are nothing like her family. People often say “faction before family,” but Tris has a hard time grasping that, especially when her family’s faction is accused of attempting to overthrow their government. The story is perfect for a novel but convoluted in film form; it’s heavy on exposition and light on the character development that thrives in this type of filmmaking. There’s also a traditional love story at the center, and even with a strong performance from Theo James, it still feels a bit grating. This film series has potential; I like the central concept despite the slightly foggy translation to film. The sequels will be a true test to prove whether it’s anything more than an intriguing idea.
Grade: ★★★ (out of 5)