What is it with teens and dystopian thrillers? They are depressing, full of teen angst and the storylines are obsessed with death. But the books have been huge hits so therefore movies must be made.
When viewing Divergent, it is easy to compare it to The Hunger Games. The two deal with class and are both pretty violent. However, the premise of Divergent is more intriguing. The story is set in a future version of Chicago where buildings and skyscrapers are in shambles. This society has been broken up into five factions that are based on human virtues. In our real world, every person has a little bit of every virtue in them, but in future Chicago, people are assumed to fit in one faction only.
The five factions are:
- Abnegation – Selfless people who wear grey clothing, never look too long in the mirror and are the ones that run the government.
- Amity – People who are lovey-dovey and would rather pretend that everything is peachy keen instead of feeling anger
- Dauntless – Crazy, but brave people willing to take chances and they are the ones who serve as the society’s police.
- Candor – They are people who always tell the truth, but are not necessarily kind in the way that they do it. They wear black and white and see life that way too.
- Erudites – These people are the super-smart ones and tend to conflict with the Abnegation people.
Those who don’t “fit in” within any of the five factions are either considered Factionless (basically homeless people) or Divergent (people who can think independently and therefore are considered a threat).
Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) and her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) were born into a Abnegation family. Their father Andrew (Tony Goldwyn) and mother Natalie (Ashley Judd) serve as leaders. When children in this certain society reach a certain age, they are given a choice to continue living within their known faction or adopt a new faction. However, if they do choose a new faction, they must not associate with their former family. To their parent’s dismay, Beatrice, changes her name to Tris and becomes Dauntless. Caleb chooses Erudite.
The story then continues following Tris as she goes through a boot camp-like environment. Unfortunately, the Dauntless have recently changed their policy and did not let the new recruits know ahead of time: Those who are not up to snuff are kicked out of the Dauntless club and will become factionless. To make matters worse, Tris is informed that she is actually a Divergent and needs to keep quiet about it.
Meanwhile, there is building tension between the faction leaders. Abnegation are accused of stealing food and Jeanine (Kate Winslet), leader of the Erudites, feels that she is smarter and could do a better job in power.
For the most part, Divergent starts out strong, than lags in the middle and then picks up again near the end. Though the set up is strong, the end result is not. You see, participants in this new world are tested frequently to make sure that they who they say they are. They are given a strange serum that makes them dream crazy dreams. But here’s the deal. When Tris dreams, she is strong enough to know that none of what she is seeing is real and therefore able to wake up quicker than others – a sign that she has a mind of her own. One of her trainers, Four (Theo James), wants to know how she “escaped” so quickly. Apparently, no body else knows how to do that and her test results will be a dead giveaway of her true nature if she doesn’t reform. That’s it. That’s her special ability. With all the build up, you would think that it would be something greater. This is where The Hunger Games stands out as a better film. Its storyline gets stronger as the story goes on whereas Divergent, ends with no real payoff. We know that this system of living doesn’t work, but we aren’t given a better alternative either.
Of course, this I just one film in the proposed four-film series, but at the end you’re left feeling like, “this is it?” There must be more to this dystopian life.