Divergent (2014)

(On Cable TV, February 2015)  Sometimes, I wonder if growing old isn’t best characterized by the ability to recognize patterns and realize that they will go away in time.  This probably comes alongside a certain jadedness and inability to experience things as-new.  So it is that in the middle of The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner and The Giver (and I may have forgotten a few), it’s all too easy to see that we’re in the middle of a teenage dystopian mini-trend, one that can’t help but go back to common elements that seem repetitive when seen in close proximity.  Uneasy teenager with special abilities marginalized by rigid post-apocalyptic society, going up against authority figures to break the system?  I may be anticipating here, but check, check and check.  At least Shailene Woodley can sustain the demands of her role, and the technical presentation of future Chicago (walled-off as it is) is interesting enough.  The film has bits and pieces of passing interest despite riffing off an increasingly common sub-genre template: Maggie Q and Zoe Kravitz have good small role, while Kate Winslet has somehow earned a place as an authority figure.  Various up-and-coming actors surround them, even though they’re not asked to do much here.  Fans of well-developed science-fiction will roll their eyes at the nonsensical, precedent-less society here presented, or at the dumb-as-rocks plot that unfolds.  Otherwise, there really isn’t much to say here about the film: It’s bare-minimum effort SF for teenagers, and it’s unlikely to distinguish itself enough to become a reference even five years from now.  On the other hand, Woodley and her cohort will be able to parley the success of the film into higher-profile jobs, so it’s not as if the film will be a complete loss.  (I suspect that it may become a key piece of whatever “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” game will be played in the future.)

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