SYNOPSIS: Shailene Woodley and Theo James star in this dystopian thriller about a world divided into factions based on virtues. When Tris learns she’s Divergent and won’t fit in, she teams with the mysterious Four to find out why the establishment wants to destroy the Divergents.

Movie Review: DivergentReel Rating: 5 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements and some sensuality
Released in Theaters: March 21, 2014
Genre: Action, Adventure, Based on a Book
Runtime: 143 minutes
Directed by: Neil Burger
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Official Site: Divergent

REVIEW: “Divergent” is one of those rare movies where I found myself so engrossed in the characters and stories, I didn’t want it to end. Thankfully, there are two more movies coming up — “Insurgent” in 2015 and “Allegiant” in 2016. Maybe I’ll actually get the Veronica Roth books read by the time those movies come out! “Divergent” is still sitting on my desk.

“Divergent” takes place in the distant future, in a society strictly divided into five factions based on character traits — Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the kind), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent).

Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) is a 16-year-old who was born into the Abnegation faction, but whose government-sponsored personality test reveals she is Divergent. That means she doesn’t fit into any one faction. But even if they test a certain way, kids have the option to choose their faction, and Beatrice chooses Dauntless and immediately gives herself the much cooler name of Tris.

During the brutal Dauntless boot camp, Tris falls in with the mysterious and extremely handsome — oh, let’s call it like it is – he’s ridiculously hot — Four (Theo James), who gives her pointers on how to fight like the fierce female warrior he knows she is. Together, they discover that the Erudite, led by Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), plan to kill all Divergents and take control of the government — unless Tris and Four can stop them.

As mentioned, the book is still sitting on my desk, so I can’t comment on how the movie compares. But I really loved this movie — everything from the super attractive cast (including Maggie Q, Jai Courtney, Zoe Kravitz, Mekhi Phifer, Miles Teller, and Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn as Tris’ parents) to the amazing stunts and decaying urban setting. I’m basically in love with these types of movies, and would say that (so far), “Divergent” is right up there with “The Hunger Games.”

Movie Review: Divergent

And look, Shailene Woodley is amazing and the current and next big thing in Hollywood. Who knew the girl from “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” had such depth and vulnerability? I actually think I’ve seen all of her movies, including “The Descendents” and “The Spectacular Now,” and she brings it in every role. In addition to the upcoming “Divergent” films, look for her in “The Fault in Our Stars,” the adaptation of John Green’s novel in theaters June 6, 2014. 

While there’s some violence (expected, given the subject matter), the PG-13 rating is on target, and there are some good messages for kids here. Tris is a strong, brave girl who finds her place in a controlling society, and both she and Four are smart, selfless and kind.

Not only that, they don’t immediately fall into bed with each other. There’s a passionate kiss (much to the delight of everyone in the theater where I saw this movie), but they’re taking their romance slow and treating each other with respect. 

“Divergent” is one of my favorite movies so far this year.


Sex/Nudity: Tris and Four exchange romantic looks and share hugs and a passionate kiss. During a simulated fear test, Tris visualizes Four kissing her on a bed and trying to convince her to have sex before she’s ready. She defends herself.

Violence/Gore: Several characters are shot at, injured, or killed, including family members. Teen siblings are orphaned during the course of the movie. The Dauntless initiation includes several scenes of fist-fighting, to the point where someone can’t get up off the mat. A knife-throwing session puts someone in danger. Characters experience fear simulations to deal with their greatest fears — wild animals, confined spaces, drowning, etc. A character commits suicide and his dead body is briefly shown. A character is forced to hang off of a ledge because of her cowardice. Drugged soldiers shoot and kill unarmed citizens.

Profanity: A few uses of “b*tch,” “sh*t,” and “a**hole.” Insults include “Stiff,” “coward,” “stupid” and “loudmouth.”

Drugs/Alcohol: Members of the Dauntless faction appear to be drinking in one scene.

Which Kids Will Like It? Kids 13 and older who’ve read the Veronica Roth book or like Shailene Woodley or Theo James movies.

Will Parents Like It? “Divergent” is a great movie for teen girls, because it features a strong female teen who’s also vulnerable. I also love that it’s based on a book that’s popular with teens.

One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

By Jane Louise Boursaw.  Jane Boursaw is a family entertainment writer specializing in movies and TV. Visit her at, email jboursaw, or Google+