The Divide – Review
Best known for Hitman and and the somewhat controversial Frontier(s), Xavier Gens brings in a terrifying glimpse into the fall of humanity. The Divide is one of those films you hear about that you just never find the time to watch. The film was recommended on more than one occasion and when I finally did catch up with it, I was more than pleasantly surprised. The Divide is one of those films that explores the human condition and asks the age old question, is the human race really worth saving.
As the nuclear missiles hit the city core, Eva watches from her apartment window as the blasts roll towards her building. Acting quickly, Eva finds herself as one of the lucky ones, escaping the final blasts as her building topples to the ground. She now finds herself as one of a few scared survivors looking for answers and trying to remain calm. Mickey, the superintendent knew this day was coming and fortunately he is prepared, but even then, supplies start to dwindle, patience crumbles, and our basic humanity is put to the test.
The Divide starts with a beautifully powerful scene with Eva looking out across the city, while in her eye we see the reflection of the missiles impacting on the city’s core. As tears roll down her cheek, we see the ominous blast wave rolling towards her building, a scene that causes your heart to sink just enough to feel the moment. Xavier Gens does a fantastic job directing this film and there are some amazing shots that just milk every fleeting moment. The Divide hits the ground running in a frenetic escape scene as we watch Eva (Lauren German) and her meek boyfriend Sam (why do strong female leads always have to have weak boyfriends or husbands?) follow dozens of tenants in a desperate race to the lobby. Suddenly an open break for the Super’s basement apartment. Only a handful of survivors make it, and this is where Gens sets up the story. The pacing is perfect from beginning to end and kept me glued to my seat. Tension builds at a steady rate as reality eventually sets in and chaos ensues. Gens does a great job capturing the panic and eventual hopelessness and depravity of the situation. He takes us into some very dark places, and although a lot of the violence is hidden, it’s powerful enough to stick with you well after the credits roll. What really adds to the authenticity of this film though, and something that can easily make or break even the best script, is the acting.
The awesome performances compliment the great writing in this post apocalyptic film. Michael Biehn leads a brilliant cast in what could easily be described as one of his best performances ever. Sam, the paranoid but readily prepared building superintendent, has been waiting for this. Biehn completely commands this role from beginning to end, constantly wavering on the edge of psychotic. Laura German (Hawaii Five-0) is our lead protagonist, Eva who tries to bring balance to the group. Next to Biehn, German delivers the goods and brings Eva to life in a very sympathetic and believable character, coping with unthinkable situations, and performing unthinkable acts. Rosanna Arquette and Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes) are also fantastic, although I was a little confused with Milo’s character. During the first half of the film, Josh (Ventimiglia) is portrayed as someone who might be gay. In the last act though, all of his actions dictate otherwise. I could be completely wrong, and it really didn’t impact my overall impression of the film. A solid cast, and performances like these are rare in a straight to DVD release.
You would think that a film that is set mostly in an apartment building basement would feel somewhat claustrophobic, but it doesn’t. On a small scale we witness society crumble, where facing our own species is a fate worse than dying in a radioactive wasteland. The Divide is one of those rare straight to DVD releases that deserves to be watched. It may not have gotten a theatrical release, but its better than a lot of the drek stealing our screens nowadays.
The Divide is currently available on DVD and Blu Ray.