The plot is far too convoluted to fully explain in the usual short span of this introduction, so the gist is that it's set in a dystopian future where the post-war government controls the population by sorting them into castes based on single personality traits. Using the synonym function in Microsoft Word, these factions are Dauntless, (brave) Erudite, (smart) Abnegation, (selfless) Amity, (happy) and Candour (honest). During her sorting process, Abnegate teenager Beatrice Prior discovers that she's more than one of these things at once, and thus classified as Divergent, starting a chain of events that will take her away from her loved ones and on the path to revolution.
Summit Entertainment has already announced that they're doing the Summit thing of splitting Veronica Roth's trilogy of books into four films, (see also: Breaking Dawn, the upcoming Mockingjay) leading to inevitable pre-emptive grumbles in the movie news press. In the Divergent series, I anticipate that this is chiefly going to be a problem for anybody who has trouble believing that the system of government portrayed here is going to take three more movies to fully collapse.
Their battle against the forces of smartness is depressingly predictable too. There's only one of those aforementioned factions whose principal trait could be turned to something both villainous and threatening, unless the (barely featured) happy farming faction decided to take on their more downbeat neighbours with rakes. The script has no short supply of repetitive monologues, so these are the first resort of the baddies, particularly Kate Winslet's Erudite arch-villain and Jai Courtney's thick-headed and antagonistic trainer. There are endless reserves of screen time dedicated to re-explaining this stuff alongside a feature-length training montage, while the deaths of major characters, in whom we're supposed to be at least passingly invested, go by without rumination or even remark.
While I'm hardly a staunch defender of the Twilight saga, that series was seldom as aggressively terrible as this cynical franchise kickstarter. There are similarities to its Summit stable-mate in terms of budget and execution- you can count on the Divergent sequels looking as cheap as this one does, even though the fans will have made it profitable enough that any conscientious producer would give a little back to them in terms of production value. But at least Twilight was always earnest to a fault, whereas this feels utterly empty.
Divergent is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and video on demand services.
If you've seen Divergent, why not leave a comment below? Points to anyone who can explain to me if I'm wrong about Miles Teller being the fucking worst omen about a film's quality.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.