In a dystopian future, society has been divided into five factions to keep the peace, with people chosen depending on their personalities – Abnegation (the selfless who give up most comforts), Amity (the peaceful farming types), Candor (the truthful), Erudite (the intelligent) and Dauntless (the brave warriors). Just think of school cliques like the jocks and the nerds and you get the idea.
At the age of 16, children undergo an aptitude test to decide which faction best suits them and young Beatrice (Woodley) discovers she doesn’t fit into the category of her parents (Abnegation) or, in fact, any category at all – she is a divergent, having the attributes of more than one faction. The trouble is, since divergents can think independently, they are feared by the government and she has to hide the results of her test.
When it comes to choosing a faction, Beatrice (renaming herself Tris and getting a tattoo) opts for Dauntless, the fearless, tough, arrogant bunch of warriors who spend their time jumping off moving trains and learning how to fight. It’s a good choice since it puts her in the path of hunky Dauntless instructor Four (James), but as well as having to prove she is rough and tough enough to be allowed to stay, there is also a nefarious plan afoot, led by Erudite leader Jeanine (Winslet).
Bearing some similarities to The Hunger Games, this action drama benefits greatly from the two lead performances of Woodley and James, especially as this first film (two sequels follow) spends much of its running time setting up the premise of the factions with only the last quarter dealing with some major league action. That said, when the action does come it is thick and fast, and the romance is more interesting (and less chaste) than the weak and wussy one in Hunger Games, making this an intriguing first instalment in the Divergent franchise.
Is Divergent suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This movie is aimed at teens so does feature some violent scenes. Younger viewers may find a scene where Tris imagines being attacked quite scary, and there are other tense action scenes not suitable for the under 11s.