Neil Burger’s new movie Divergent is a compelling science fiction thriller. The action scenes are tense and well-choreographed, and the visuals stunning. The film manages to send the viewer on a tense ride through a number of suspenseful action scenes, yet still manages to develop its world in an effective manner.

Divergent is a dystopian story set in the aftermath of a massive war. The government has devised an elaborate system to ensure peace by dividing society into a series of “factions” based on the individual’s personalities. Those that do not fit into any particular faction are labeled as “divergent” and are considered a threat and are eliminated by the authorities.

The two central characters are well developed and complex. Shailene Woodley delivers a strong performance in the role of the protagonist, Beatrice “Tris” Prior, and does an impressive job of capturing the psychological tension between her character’s determination to fit into her society and her struggle to hide her true personality. Along the way she befriends her instructor, a tough but sensitive man by the name of “Four” who is experiencing similar problems. The relationship between both if somewhat slow develops into a strong connection.

While the two leads are complex, they do overshadow the supporting cast. Jai Courtney’s role of Eric is suitably intimidating but ultimately a very generic archetype one might expect to see in a military setting. Also, there are a number of supporting roles, particularly the characters Prior meets while in her chosen “faction”, that serve more of a background role lacking depth and characterization.

Divergent is an enjoyable science fiction thriller regardless of whether or not you are familiar with the books. With a strong female lead and a number of good action scenes to drive a compelling story through the full two and half hour running time.

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