Movie Review
Divergent poster
By Craig Younkin     Published March 23, 2014
US Release: March 21, 2014

Directed by: Neil Burger
Starring: Shailene Woodley , Miles Teller , Kate Winslet

PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements and some sensuality
Running Time: 139 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $150,647,000
For a movie trying to be the start of a series, Divergent doesn’t manage to kick-start much of anything.
Craig Younkin is also a reviewer for Movie Room Reviews

It’s amazing that something called “Divergent” could feel so un-unique. Both painfully dull and perplexing, nothing about this movie works terribly well, which at 2 hours and 15 minutes long makes it all the worse.

The awfully under-explained start takes place 100 years after some war, where those that were left decided that the best way to live was to split people up into factions. Smart, kind, honest, brave, and selfless; for some reason you’re only allowed to be one of these things in the future and God help you if you’re not. Through some freaky test that seems to mirror the effects of LSD, you are allowed to see what serves you best and then make your own choice. For Beatrice (Shailene Woodley), the choice is made harder since she appears to be good at all of these things, which if found out could get her killed.

So she picks the group, Dauntless, putting her into an army of lunatics who seem to think jumping from buildings and trains makes you brave. There are no older people in this army, the average age of the commanding officers is like 23. They are Four (Theo James), and his dickish partner Eric (Jai Courtney). Beatrice, at first, finds herself at odds with Four but her drive and determination (or something, I don’t really know what) softens his perception of her and he agrees to help her think more like a Dauntless.

Based off some idiotic book by Veronica Booth, I guess you’re supposed to be so into the romance between Bea and Four (which comes much later and has one say to the other “I don’t want to go too fast”) and the soundtrack which kicks off a selection every 10 minutes it seems like to notice that the rules of this future, which include if you fail out of your faction you can’t see your family again and the more glaring oddity that you’re really only allowed to be born with one personality trait, wouldn’t really prevent any future wars and would actually create more problems than it solves.

As we head into the meat of this thing, Bea’s time spent in Dauntless is more like daunting, going through countless training sessions and unremarkable games of capture the flag. This army has had nothing to do for a long time, making us wonder how bored most of these veterans actually are. How boring is it? At one point I started to wonder how everybody in this underground cave/bunker managed to keep such shiny, Salon quality hair.

Kate Winslet shows up later as the head of the Smarts, who seem to have a feud going on with the Selfless, who run everything or something like that. The final 25 minutes of this movie is like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” which really only adds to the senselessness of the rest of the movie, despite director Neil Berger and cast doing its damndest here to at least rev up some rootability in the home team managing to somehow keep its “human spirit.”

Called “Divergent” because apparently “Hunger Games for Dummies” must have been copyrighted already by a Hunger Games cliff-notes book, this thing is less fun, less thrilling, and much less likely to get you on its side as it fights the powers that be for the rights of humanity. For a movie trying to be the start of a series, “Divergent” really doesn’t manage to kick-start much of anything.
Craig's Grade: D+
Craig's Overall Grading: 340 graded movies
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'Divergent' Articles
  • Crowd Report Analysis: Divergent
    March 21, 2014    I was hesitant about going under $50 million for the weekend even with slow advance sales but now that possibility is sounding awfully possible. -- Lee Tistaert
  • Box Office Outlook: Divergent
    March 20, 2014    I’m anticipating an opening day of $22 – 28 million for Divergent in 3,936 theaters, which would be a per-screen average between $5,500 and $7,000. -- Lee Tistaert