Having escaped the chaos created by Jeanine’s relentless pursuit to restore the faction system, Tris, Four, Caleb, and Peter take refuge with the Amity faction out in the forest. Unable to stay hidden, Peter defects over to Jeanine’s troops but lets the others escape. Focused on meeting back up with the other Dauntless members, the trio heads back toward the city to seek them out. On the way, they have a run-in with a faction-less gang, which sends them on a detour to the faction-less headquarters and a meeting with Four’s supposedly dead mother. Rather than agreeing immediately to join forces for war, Tris and Four head off to rejoin their Dauntless friends and find their own way to get revenge on Jeanine.
Review: In the world of young adult fiction, this series is trying hard to establish itself from its biggest competitor, The Hunger Games. While both take place in dystopian futures, both involve a segregation of society, and both head down the path to war following a breach in the ruling class’s structure, the Divergent series tries harder to include more of a mystery in the progression of the story. The odd thing about this film was that it all seemed to center around two elements: Tris struggling deal with her Divergent nature and a mysterious box with an unknown message about Divergents.
Shailene Woodley (Tris) played her character with a lot of emotion and heart. While at times a little over the top, her talent was clear and a sign of a strong career to come. If anything, she mastered facial expressions for conflicted, frustration, and anger. Her character was struggling throughout the film with the mixed emotions of her competing faction identities. Her Abnegation prevented her from resisting urges to save herself, but it conflicted with the more aggressive tendencies of the Dauntless side. Since Abnegation still allowed her to fight for what she believed in, her biggest struggle was finding a connection to her Amity (peaceful) side.
As far as the box went, everyone knew it was important, but no one was really ready for the message held within its puzzle. Kate Winslet (Jeanine) did a good job with playing the overly-focused villain, but it was a little interesting that she wasted so many Divergents on opening the box when it appeared that they could take breaks between attempts to open it.
Theo James (Four) played his role of the obsessive, protective boyfriend, but not much more. Miles Teller (Peter) was more of a background character whose importance appeared in short bursts. This film was not much of a platform for his talent, but another recent film is a much better example of where he is going to go (Whiplash).
This film could have been a little more definitive in its distinction from competitive series and it could have had a more significant purpose than opening a special box as its central plot point. Nonetheless, it advanced the story forward and had a major (yet predictable) reveal to finish the movie. Now if the final book did not have to be split into two movies like all of these other series.
Dan’s Rating: 2.5/5