Diverge is a 2018 sci-fi thriller about a survivor of a deadly virus who is given the chance to reclaim his lost life by stopping the man responsible for the disease.
Jumping about time in order to save the world is practically a hallmark of the time travel genre. Either that or to get the girl. With James Morrison‘s feature length debut, Diverge, it’s both, a contemplative, slow-paced thinker that rubs against the grain of most post-apocalyptic genre films, delivering a compelling if not modest little film with big ideas and some earnest performances.
In a barren landscape smothered by dense grey skies and a distant horizon of a large city skyline on fire, a lone figure (Ivan Sandomire), bundled in tattered clothes, a scraggly beard and a few belongings trudges in clear despair along the salt flats. He soon comes upon a woman (Erin Cunningham), who we learn is his wife, the two barely surviving in a world turned to ash. He is Chris and she is Anna, and they live beyond the quarantine zone where one night, a stranger appears and tells them they will not last. Sure enough, Anna soon passes and strangely, not long after, Chris awakens in the past, discovering that he’s been selected for a special mission, one meant to save his wife and in turn, the world entire.
Purposefully atmospheric, it’s ten minutes before the first word is spoken, and from there, few more come long. Morrison, who wrote the screenplay, avoids the trappings of most in the genre, skipping expositional narration and running text crawls with details of what is happening, instead leaving it up to the audience to pay attention and piece it together. It’s a good choice. We learn that before a catastrophic pandemic wiped out most, Chris’ research on a particular flowering plant holds the key to altering that destiny. Though before that, in the wrong hands, is much more nefarious.
Despite a limited budget, Morrison manages to build a believable world, and while that same budget keeps things decidedly compressed and the production often can’t deliver on its ambitions, the important thing is how effective Morrison’s story is. Time travel is always a tricky rope to tread upon, and typically, it means accepting a certain creative science and Diverge isn’t immune, however, this is a story far more attentive to the paradox than the authenticity, and for fans of mind-benders, has plenty to compel. Putting the same character in the same room with themselves leads to all sorts of opportunities and Morrison creates some clever moments around this, offering at least one solid twist.
This is not an action movie and as such, depends entirely on tension rather than explosions per se. If you got more out of Primer than say, Edge of Tomorrow, both intelligent and well-made time travel movies with entirely different approaches, then there’s much here you’re going to like. I appreciate Morrison’s efforts (and the homage of sort to the Tyrell corporation), genuinely getting absorbed into many tangled threads. Inventive to a degree, what Morrison accomplishes most is to demonstrate promise, a filmmaker willing to take some chances and perhaps with more behind him, could really surprise.
Movie description: DIVERGE IS A 2018 SCI-FI THRILLER ABOUT A SURVIVOR OF A DEADLY VIRUS WHO IS GIVEN THE CHANCE TO RECLAIM HIS LOST LIFE BY STOPPING THE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DISEASE.
Director(s): James Morrison
Actor(s): Ivan Sandomire, Jamie Jackson, Andrew Sensenig
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller