All 3 Divergent movies dauntlessly ranked from worst to best

Allegiant, they could never make me hate you!
MAGGIE Q and SHAILENE WOODLEY star in DIVERGENT - credit: ©2013 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.
MAGGIE Q and SHAILENE WOODLEY star in DIVERGENT - credit: ©2013 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved. /

As of June 2024, all three of The Divergent Series movies are streaming on Netflix in the United States. If you haven't watched these movies since they started hitting theaters — gulp — 10 years ago, it's the perfect time to revisit the most underrated young adult dystopian movie franchise based on a series of popular books.

Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant are based on the books of the same name by Veronica Roth and star Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, and more familiar faces. In a dystopian future Chicago, citizens are placed into personality-based factions, though they're given the option to switch factions when they turn 16. Tris's brave choice kick starts the story and a revolution.

With the first movie celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2024 and all three movies being rewatched on Netflix, let's be a little bit dauntless and rank each one from worst (a relative term here) to best!

3. Allegiant

Look, let's just get this out of the way right now: The third and sadly final Divergent movie doesn't deserve all of the negative reviews it's received. It's an entertaining movie! But it's still unfortunate that the final book in Roth's trilogy was split into two movies, as was the trend at the time with young adult page-to-screen franchises. (Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games all did it much more successfully, financially speaking at least.)

Allegiant expands the world of the movies even further as Tris, Four, and their friends venture beyond the wall. Four's mother takes over Chicago's leadership role in Jeanine's place, but not much has changed. Tris and Four defiantly escape across the boarder and find themselves in the Bureau and meet David, another wolf in sheep's clothing played by Jeff Daniels. Much to Four's dismay, Tris becomes allured by David's promises, until she finally learns the truth.

By the end of the movie, Tris has revealed the secret to the world: Chicago and the factions were an experiment being puppet mastered by David and the Bureau. She stops the memory wiping gas and reveals the Bureau to the public. In some ways, it's a fine ending to the film series, though David popping up behind Tris in the final seconds leaves the audience wanting more. Tris dies in the final book (sorry for the spoiler!), but she doesn't in the movies. That's the one silver lining.

When I saw Allegiant in theaters, I loved it, and every time I have rewatched it, I have also enjoyed the experience. Building out the world with new colors and technology feels like a natural progression from the saga's humble beginnings, though the thin story of the movie isn't a fault of its own; dividing Roth's book was a mistake. Honestly, I would rank Allegiant higher if the first two movies weren't even better and more exciting. It's a shame its legacy ultimately rests on what could have been. Allegiant, they could never make me hate you!

2. Divergent

Ah, the movie that started it all. Looking back, it's wild to see how modest The Divergent Series was with its debut. Divergent was fittingly much smaller in scope than its sequel, and that's mostly to do with budget but also the simpler story it's telling. We're introduced to this seemingly black and white world of Tris Prior through her timid lens. Shades of gray are all she's known having been raised in the Abnegation faction, but once she becomes Dauntless at the choosing ceremony, her world blooms.

The best strength of the movie has to be Woodley's performance as Tris. She puts in the work and earns the slowly built confidence that makes Tris the key to dismantling this whole regime. In the beginning, she's a meek teen who wasn't even allowed to look in the mirror. By the end, she can kick a grown man's butt. What's more Woodley and James have an easy chemistry that allows the Tris and Four romance to soar. (The best scene? When Tris learns Four is Divergent, too. Chills!)

Although Divergent has plenty of quieter moments, it's full of action-packed sequences that leave you on the edge of your seat. A lot of people would likely rank the franchise opener as the best movie the series has to offer, and part of me does agree. However, it's the only movie of three that exceeds two hours. The story and pacing could and should have both been tightened as to not hit two hours and 20 minutes. Perhaps the filmmakers were overly concerned with doing the book justice.

1. Insurgent

Recently, Insurgent went viral on TikTok for the most random reason: Tris's raspy screams when she's jumping in the air during a simulation. It's funny when isolated, but it's not a memorable moment in the movie while watching. I'm not sure if it's a hot take, but I will boldly claim that Insurgent is the strongest of the three movies. Does it have its weaknesses? For some viewers, sure, but for me, it's thrilling and brings together all of the best ascpects of these movies.

Insurgent rectifies the pacing issues of the original, tightening up the movie to a brisk two hours, and not a minute is wasted. The story goes to unexpected places (as per Roth's book) thanks to Jeanine's continued insistence on control. On the run after outsmarting Jeanine at the end of Divergent, Tris and Four find refuge in the Amity faction before diving back into the war on Divergents. From beginning to end, its rife with high-octane action and thought-provoking moral questions.

Again, the series technically could have ended here, with Tris opening the box and revealing to the factions of Chicago that there's life beyond the wall. Of course, we learn in Allegiant that the reveal isn't exactly what it seems, and there's even more revealed in what would have been Ascendant, but Insurgent's ending gives us enough hope that these characters will be okay. Jeanine even gets her comeuppance, too. Regardless, I don't think Insurgent gets enough credit for being a solid sci-fi action movie.

Watch all three Divergent movies on Netflix in June 2024.