Based on a trilogy of books written by Veronica Roth, Divergent brought to screen by Neil Burger begins as many other similar dystopian films years after the civilization as we know was destroyed by war. One of the surviving pockets is the city of Chicago. In the retro-futuristic ruins that we know from many other films the local community survives by having itself divided into five strict casts, with well defined social roles – agricultural production, justice, social assistance, policing and defense. One has to chose once base on some kind of a hipno-test that detects his abilities and recommends the future path. There is no return. Outfits are thrown out of the system in kind of a homeless world. Those who do not fit into the patterns are feared, and eliminated when identified. They are the Divergents.
The film is the story of one of them – a teenage girl who chooses to train to become part of the more exciting military-policing cast – or maybe two if we add her trainer who has one secret in his pocket – as they fight the system, try to adapt, but do not find their way of integrating, so they revolt. The premises are almost as strict as the social rules of the world that is being described in the film, and it would have taken quite a lot of talent and character building in order to overcome a simplistic approach. Unfortunately this is not the case, and the film hesitates between a future vision which is not original enough and a teenage fighting adversity story which is not complex or interesting enough.
Director Neil Burger of The Illusionist fame quite disappoints here. I should say that he disappoints again, as after that 2006 movie he never got back to the level of story and characters building that he reached there. He never succeeds to exceed the cliches of the The Hunger Games genre. No, this is not supposed to be a compliment. Divergent is too much resembling many other films of its genre, the young Shailene Woodley and Theo James act well but they are no Jennifer Lawrence and the presence of Kate Winslet in a well built supporting role is not enough to save this film from a very average grade. Divergent is missing some more divergence.