“Divergent” is no “Hunger Games” remake

In a post-apocalyptic world, society has been divided into five factions, and each has a unique and singular life purpose. Every citizen of the society is divided into one of the five factions based on their character traits. Those who do not fit nicely into one particular mold are classified as divergent, and are considered a serious threat to the safety and security of the society in which they live. But are they?

Adapted from the novel by Veronica Roth, “Divergent” shows how a seemingly perfect society is destroyed when a few power-hungry people conspire to get rid of a minority group who have the audacity to be different, just so they can seize control of the government and run the society the way that most benefits them.

Poster for 'Divergent' film.
Poster for ‘Divergent’ film.

“Divergent” uses an attention-grabbing plot to make a subtle, yet powerful social commentary.

Star Shailene Woodley gives an adequate performance as Tris. She does an excellent job of showing the vulnerability and fear that goes along with transferring from her faction of origin to her new faction.

But where she could use a little boost is in showing the transformation from the soft-spoken, timid girl to the strong and potent young woman she never fully becomes.

Part of the responsibility of helping to manage this transformation falls to director, Neil Burger, who appears to try desperately to make sure that nothing about Tris can be confused with that other kick-ass teen she-ro, Katniss Everdeen. Regrettably, in trying to keep Tris as unique as possible, a lot of her strength is never fully realized.

On the flip-side, however, Theo James, who plays Four, displays a duality of character that makes you wonder whether he’s the good guy or bad guy, and then has you trying to figure out what his real motivation is for the relationship that develops with Tris.

With one look, James is able to make you doubt and believe at the same time. With another, he can make you pity him and fear him at the same time. Suffice to say that this talented young actor has a long and interesting career ahead of him.

With a film of this scope, there is a huge ensemble behind the two stars: way too many to mention individually. Nevertheless, it was pleasantly surprising to see several big screen veterans in some good supporting roles.

Ashely Judd plays Natalie, Tris’ mother, and she is one bad mama. Tony Goldwyn of “Scandal” fame plays Tris’ father Andrew. Mekhi Phifer plays Max, a faction leader and one of the co-conspirators. And Kate Winslet plays Jeanine, a leader in a different faction and also a co-conspirator. Each of these major stars brings a strong quality to each of the minor characters they play.

Regardless of what faction you may be best suited for, keep your eyes open for the divergent. They can be anyone, anywhere.


Rating: PG-13
Running time: 111 mins.

Verdict: This is no “Hunger Games” remake…