Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Divergent Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Strong female character leads in violent dystopia.
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 143 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 35 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 251 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The lead character deals with important issues about identity and finding her place in a controlling society. Tris and Four struggle with what it really means to be selfless, brave, smart, and kind, as they explore trusting their own beliefs rather than those imposed by the separatist government.

Positive Role Models

Tris sometimes doubts herself but taps into her courage and ingrained selflessness to protect others even when she doesn't realize it, like when she stands up for Al and takes a punishment for him. Four encourages Tris to use her upbringing's focus on selflessness to be even more courageous. Tris and Four offer a positive example of a teen relationship; they treat each other as equals, defend and protect each other, and go slow with their romance.


There is a less violence in the movie than in the book, but it's still a violent story. Several characters are shot at, injured, or killed including beloved parents. Teen siblings are orphaned by the end of the movie. The Dauntless faction of brave risk takers requires a brutal initiation that includes several scenes of bloody hand-to-hand combat (until someone can't get up any more), knife-throwing, marksmanship, and more. Characters are routinely sparring and injuring one another -- or entering fear simulations to deal with their greatest fears, whether it's wild animals, confined spaces, drowning, etc. A character commits suicide and his dead body is briefly shown. Three masked guys grab Tris, beat her up and nearly throw her to her death. Christina is forced to hang off of a ledge for a certain amount of time to atone for her cowardice. During a climactic sequence, drugged soldiers shoot and kill unarmed citizens.


In addition to a few longing looks, just one long passionate kiss (with the guy shirtless), and some heartfelt embraces. During a fear simulation, Tris imagines Four kissing her on a bed and trying to convince her to have sex before she's ready, but she defends herself.


A couple of uses of "bitch," "s--t,"  and "a--hole." Other insults include "Stiff," "coward," "stupid," "loudmouth."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In one scene it looks like some of the Dauntless are drinking, but it's not clear.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Divergent is the first adaptation of author Veronica Roth's best-selling dystopian trilogy. Set in a future Chicago, the movie is slightly less violent than the book but still depicts the brutal world of a post-apocalyptic society divided into factions or groups. People are killed, orphaned, injured, and thoroughly beat up in bloody hand-to-hand combat (including guy-on-girl fist fights), violent bullying, an armed occupation, and mass killings of unarmed people. There's a central romance, but it remains fairly chaste -- only some longing looks, embraces and one extended, passionate kiss. The movie features a brave, vulnerable, and fierce female main character.  

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNerdymom411 December 6, 2016

A great film - possibly suitable for your younger kids, if they have the attention span

I say 12 and up for this because I think once you've made it to middle school, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to see Divergent. I will c... Continue reading
Parent Written byMovie editor April 22, 2014

I saw this movie twice

I think this was a very good movie. It corresponds with the book very well. It does have a some violence but not the whole movie. I would recommend this for no... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bydoodlebuggy(: March 22, 2014

Fabulous movie adaptation, lives up to its name ♥

This was a GREAT movie. Before you think, "two hours long?!" I want to tell you that I did not fidget or think about the time AT ALL while watching it... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old March 22, 2014

Doesn't quite catch the book

In Divergent, so many things went right, and so many went wrong. They totally left out Edward, and Christina and Will dating. The cast was great, but I especi... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the distant future, Chicago is cut off from the rest of America 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 "Tris" Prior (Shailene Woodley) is a 16-year-old Abnegation-born teen whose government-sponsored personality test reveals she is DIVERGENT-- meaning she doesn't fit into just one faction. After choosing to join Dauntless, Tris must survive a brutal (and bloody) initiation process under the tutelage of her handsome, mysterious instructor Four (Theo James). 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.

Is it any good?

The movie adaptation of the popular YA series benefits from a talented cast, a spot-on visual depiction of the factions, the Dauntless Pit, and the story's urban Chicago setting. The acting ensemble is as good as the cast of The Hunger Games and vastly superior to that of Twilight and the forgettable Vampire Academy and Mortal Instruments adaptations. While Woodley doesn't fit the canon description of Tris, she captures the character's mix of vulnerability and courage, her desire to be independent in a world that demands conformity. And although heartthrob Theo James is almost too manly looking for Woodley's doe-eyed ingenue, he definitely gets the job done as the intensely serious Four.

But the movie doesn't live up to the hype or the potential of the written series. The Dauntless initiation process isn't as violent or emotional on the screen as it is on the page, and neither is the buildup of the Tris and Four romance or Tris' friendship with her fellow transfer initiates. Considering the two-and-a-half-hour runtime, there are parts that drag on and yet aspects of the book that seem surprisingly cut. The performances (Winslet is fabulous as the icy Erudite leader, and Zoe Kravitz, Maggie Q, and Jai Courtney are all true to the spirit of their characters) make up for some of the pacing and screenwriting issues, but overall this adaptation falls short of fan expectations. Still, tweens and teens who've read the books should absolutely see the movies and hope the second and third installments fare better.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of violent dystopian stories aimed at teenagers. What purpose does the violence serve in Divergent? Is it different to see violence rather than to read about it? How does the violence in the book compare to the movie?

  • How does Tris compare to other female protagonists in young adult books and movies? What are her views on love, family, and relationships? Does she have the qualities of a role model?

  • Discuss the central romance between Tris and Four. Were you surprised at how slowly it progressed? What messages about love and sex does the film communicate?

  • Fans of the book: Was the movie a faithful adaptation? What differences did you like, which scenes from the book did you miss?

  • How do the characters in Divergent demonstrate courage? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dystopian thrillers

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate