The Divide begins with a sensational shot. Nuclear bombs are falling on New York City, but we see them in the reflection of an eye captured with an extreme close-up. Then, it kicks into gear as the individual who is gazing at the horror joins an army of apartment residents in an effort to get out of the building.
As panic permeates, we follow a small group of residents as they try to exit, only to hit a roadblock that is a sea of people. Turning, they see a door to the basement closing and manage to get inside before it is slammed shut. The power goes in and out. Horrible sounds come from above and then there’s the unmistakable noise of the building collapsing. What to do now?
The crux of The Divide is how this small band of survivors will get by while either waiting for help or the months it will take to have the air clear outside. Just when the audience believes it knows what the film is about, soldiers bust in, guns blazing. The terror of the nuclear attack is then topped by a scamper for survival. The eerily dressed men retreat and weld the door shut.
Survivors include Michael Biehn (visit our exclusive video interview), Milo Ventimiglia, Lauren German, Rosanna Arquette, Courtney B. Vance and Michael Eklund. Biehn establishes himself as the leader as he is the super of the building and has supplies at the ready to aid in survival.
But The Divide is not a film about the apocalypse and its aftermath. The film is truly a study in human behavior as seen when we as a species are confronted by the worst possible situations. After witnessing the film, one could easily get into a discussion as to how we would react. That is the biggest plus to the movie. It does make you think. The Divide is also incredibly ugly. Perhaps I’m an optimist, but to think that we as humans would land at our lowest common denominator after a few weeks of desperate desolation is hard to stomach. In fact, it may be all too real and that is why it so disturbs. In The Divide, that is the premise and to watch these characters slowly turn on one another is compelling, albeit appalling -- and we mean that in a good way cinematically.
There are issues with The Divide, not the least of which is it goes on for too long. Once the ending appears in sight, you may also question the bit of information that leads one of our survivors to make a move that could have been executed much earlier in the film. Then again, we wouldn’t have a film.
Director Xavier Gens (Hitman) has crafted a dark and methodical race-against-time film. For those who can appreciate this sort of dreary, animalistic portrayal of the human condition, it is solid. But for audiences that don’t want trouble sleeping for days on end after witnessing The Divide, this might not be the film for you.