Complete A-Z list



Stars: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Miles Teller, Ashley Judd, Ray Stevenson, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Tony Goldwyn, Zoe Kravitz, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Ansel Elgort

Director: Neil Burger

Come back Hunger Games, (almost) all is forgiven. This new trilogy is the brainchild of 25-year-old author Veronica Roth, whose sequels Insurgent and Allegiant are already in preparation. And it should follow the Games and Twilight series in taking in trillions.

Unfortunately that doesn't actually mean it's any good, the best bits involving the 'hallucination initiations' undergone by new recruits to 'Dauntless'.

It's the future, natch, and global conflict has reduced the world to rubble, the only exception, it seems, being Chicago, whose population is now divided into five factions: Dauntless - police who patrol and control the city; Amity - the farmers; Erudite - the brainboxes; Candor - people who speak honestly about everything; and Abnegate - who decry worldly goods and attempt to help the poor and deprived.

On a given day, all 16-year-olds (a dash of City of Ember here) have to choose a faction, regardless of parental allegiance. Though their parents belong to Abnegate, the guiding force of the city's council, twins Caleb (Elgort) and Beatrice, later Tris (Woodley) choose otherwise, following their suitability test; he plumps for Erudite, while Tris, after agonising over it, goes for Dauntless.

Her test has been inconclusive, though and she is in fact Divergent, possessing attributes of several factions, as well as additional mental powers. This means she must be hunted down (no, don't ask) by power-hungry Erudites led by Kate Winslet.

The Dauntless preparation sessions for newcomers are quite entertaining, helping to disguise the fact that very little of the woolly, arbitrary plotting makes any real sense.

Woodley, who's obviously done some hard training, acquits herself well in the single-combat and firefight scenes, though her obvious eye makeup undercuts her gritty image, her mane of shaggy hair is continually annoying and her love scenes with hunky James, as her tutor-turned-lover, worth little more than a giggle for all but impressionable sub-teens, who are probably this franchise's target audience. Sludgy colour schemes and second-rate sets are unlikely to stop them flocking to see it.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Entertainment One. Colour by deluxe.
139 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 29 Mar 2014