Rest easy, Katniss: you win this round. ‘Divergent’ is the first film to be adapted from Veronica Roth’s dystopian young-adult book series and it arrives with a sludgy, grey-hued plop. It doesn’t help that Roth’s stories make ‘The Hunger Games’ look like George Orwell. Set in a future Chicago, 100 years after a war, Roth imagines a society where some of us are labelled ‘dauntless’, some are ‘erudite’, and still others are (gasp) ‘divergent’ and thus impossible to classify.
The film’s saving grace comes in the form of Shailene Woodley, the gifted 22-year-old who plays heroine Beatrice, born to conflicted impulses (more complex than her dialogue). Yet after a middle section of knife-throwing and other tests, ‘Divergent’ doesn’t have nearly enough for its star to do. Moreover, the movie’s walled-off city feels computerised, some of the clunky sets are ‘Star Trek’-grade awful and you’re not going to get swept up in any winning action.