By Dave Campbell | January 13, 2012
Director: Xavier Gens
Writers: Karl Mueller, Eron Sheean
Starring: Lauren German, Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Biehn, Ashton Holmes, Peter Stormare, Rosanna Arquette, Courtney B. Vance, Michael Eklund
The Divide opens to frantic chaos as an unspecific nuclear strike slams New York City. The panicked residents of a highrise apartment building stampede to the basement in a last-ditch effort to escape the horrific destruction above. Luckily for them (debatable), their cigar toking super named Mickey (Michael Biehn) has fashioned the basement level of the building into fallout shelter. Micky immediately takes the alpha role since they are all on his turf and orders that the reinforced metal door be sealed shut with nobody allowed to come or go until they are sure that radiation is no longer an issue.
In no time confrontations begin to emerge as “the mouthy insane one” Bobby (Michael Eklund), “the tough guy” Josh (Milo Ventimiglia), and “the token middle-aged black guy” Devlin (Courtney B. Vance) begin a mutiny against Micky as they are hellbent on making outside contact and finding his secret stashes within the shelter. On the other side we have those who are trying to keep the peace like Josh’s half-brother “the quiet sensitive one” Adrien (Ashton Holmes), “the Milla Jovovich-ish character” Eva (Lauren German), and her estranged boyfriend “the doormat French guy” Sam (Ivan Gonzales). Then we have “the tortured promiscuous mother” Marilyn (Rosanna Arquette) who is just trying to protect her young daughter Wendy (Abbey Thickson), who is freaked by the the situation at hand. Trapped with no sign of rescue, and with their supply of water and canned-beans depleting, insanity, distrust and brutality take over as the third act goes bleakly dark and disturbing. Who will make it, and what has become of the outside world?
Oh the humanity! What a remarkably atrocious film. The filmmakers obviously tried to say something deep about human nature with The Divide, but I got too lost in the generically deplorable dialogue and second-rate acting to find it anything but substantive. One-dimensional formulaic roles make this an overwhelmingly superficial character piece not worthy of anyone’s hard-earned dollars. Additionally, the mindless repetitive use of homophobic slang, objectification of women and sexual torture are just salt in the wound of an already troubled film. It’s shocking that this film is getting any kind of a theatrical run, no matter how limited it may be.
Aside from the previously mentioned shoddy lines, the script by Karl Mueller & Eron Sheean is plagued with gaping story and timeline holes, and director Xavier Gens who previously directed Hitman, is making a catalog worthy of rivaling the infamous Uwe Boll. At it’s core The Divide is just another mindless sadistically violent torture/rape movie that collides with the usual end-of-world clichés. With the variety of recent post-apocalyptic themed successes like The Road, Wall-E, and AMC’s The Walking Dead you better come with your A-game to the dystopian party if you want to play; a memo the producers of The Divided must have missed. At one point during a struggle in the film the Eva character pleads, “No, stop!”; two simple words that someone should have articulated early on to Xavier Gens, as they could have spared us all.