The Divide is seemingly another generic story about a nuclear attack on the United States and how a group of survivors deals with the aftermath of the events. Xavier Gens was tasked with taking this somewhat generic sounding story and making it something special and he does succeed. He also managed to pull great performances out of a large amount of the cast which is surprising because of all of the rumored bickering and line stealing while filming was taking place. He is definitely a young and talented director that should have great success in the future.
The story begins as a nuclear device is being detonated in downtown New York City, and shows the tenants of an apartment building scrambling to find cover. Only eight of the residents, Eva and her boyfriend Sam, Josh and his brother Adrien, Josh’s friend Bobby, Marilyn and her daughter Wendi, and Devlin manage to force their way into the building’s bomb shelter before the superintendent, Mickey, seals the door. After they seal the door to the outside is when the real terror sets in because they have no idea how long they will be down there and what is happening on the other side of the door. The movie concerns itself more with the concepts of order, anarchy, and morality than the bomb itself.
He didn’t make it into the shelter.
I have seen a lot of movies that revolve around an apocalyptic event and this was the most realistic one I have seen besides The Road. The characters are just regular people and react the way normal people would outside of a few isolated incidents. Also, the performances of Michael Biehn, Milo Ventimiglia, and Michael Eklund are simply fantastic. Biehn gives his best performance since playing Hicks in Aliens. He is always a great part of every movie he is in and seems to be underappreciated in most roles, but the director really let him sink his teeth into the role of Mickey and it was great.
Ventimiglia finally proved that he can actually act because he had shown really little to no skill in most of his roles, but plays exceptionally well off of Michael Eklund throughout the course of the movie. The only other part I had ever seen Eklund in was a one episode role on Fringe, but his role in The Divide really proved that he has some good acting chops. This is a movie that really lives or dies on the performances given because there are no over the top action scenes to draw away your attention and everything revolves around how the characters interact with each other.
Lauren German also provides a very solid performance and her character provides the moral center of the film. Most of the scenes in the movie are seen from her perspective and if her performance had been sub-par the whole movie would have faltered. It was also refreshing to see that the writers and directors choose to go a more character-driven route instead of going for an over the top action movie which sometimes happens when dealing with apocalyptic event movies.
Hicks doesn’t take shit from nobody
The actions of some of the characters in the movie seem a little outlandish and impulsive even given the current situation they were in. Most people would not want to go outside immediately after a nuclear explosion had occurred only a few miles away. Some of the dummies in this movie were more than willing to try to rip open the door only minutes after they had rushed into the shelter. Little things like this detract from the story for only a moment at a time because the rest of the movie is of such a high quality. Also having a completely stocked fallout shelter with a fully functioning bathroom, electricity, and abundance of beds also seemed mildly convenient, but helped the movie in the long run.
Contrary to popular belief, getting caught in nuclear explosions does not grant superpowers.
This is not a movie for everyone but if you like psychological horror and apocalyptic movies, then this one will be right up you alley. Biehn, Ventimiglia, Eklund, and German make this movie truly special because each gives a career defining performance. This could also be a cool set up for a Fallout movie, just sayin’.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you say to yourself, “Wow, Sam is a giant wuss”.
Take a Drink: every time Ventimiglia’s character yells “Mickey!”
Do a Shot: every time someone literally pulls their hair out.