Entertainment

Dark finale won’t satisfy your hunger

Jennifer Lawrence, Mahershala Ali and Liam Hemsworth in a scene from “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2.”
Jennifer Lawrence, Mahershala Ali and Liam Hemsworth in a scene from “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2.” Lionsgate

What It’s About

Power struggles, a violent revolution and the future of Panem are the main elements in the very dark finale, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.”

If you haven’t read the three science fiction novels by Suzanne Collins or seen the previous grand-scale movies, figuring out what’s going on and why you should care will be difficult. But for those who enjoy this franchise, its last hurrah is a faithful adaptation and a satisfying conclusion.

I’m not enthralled with the extremely popular young adult fiction depicting teens saving a brand new world in a dystopian future, but I actually found some merit in the first two films. The last two have been dour, bloated sequels that stretched the plot over two installments, when one would have sufficed.

Splitting the third book into two films was a studio money grab, but that decision weakened the dramatic tension. There are too many long pauses and meaningful glances, so the substance-to-filler ratio is off-kilter.

That said, the cast remains enormously appealing, and the best reason to see this final showdown.

The chosen one, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), is determined to take out the evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland), and he is obsessed with getting rid of her, martyr or not.

She is aided by her closest allies, including hunky Gale (Liam Hemsworth); dreamy Finnick (Sam Claflin); her BFF Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), brainwashed at first but comes to his senses; and loyal Cressida (Natalie Dormer). They risk their lives to liberate Panem’s citizens.

President Snow’s game is Katniss’ last challenge. Will she conquer the Capitol or lose her loved ones?

Performances

Jennifer Lawrence (“The Silver Linings Playbook”) continues to mesmerize, and by now, she is quite efficient with the bow and arrow. She fiercely tackles her enemies, wrestles with the moral consequences, and deals with dangerous — and icky — traps in a minimalist way.

Many of the characters are not written to show much range, with the exception of Peeta. Josh Hutcherson delivers a potent performance, his finest of the series.

The welcome site of the familiar adult rebels — Jena Malone (“Time Out of Mind”) as Johanna, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, and Jeffrey Wright as Beetee — makes you wish there was more for them to do.

However, Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) as leader Coin and Elizabeth Banks (“Love and Mercy”) as Effie get to define their roles with more depth. Donald Sutherland is a deliciously despicable despot.

Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Capote”), who died in February 2014, makes his final film appearance as Plutarch. He had not finished the film, so his screen time is brief, but his presence is felt.

What Works

The social commentary is biting, and the movie depicts the despair of loss and harsh realities of war.

What Doesn’t Work

The beige and gray landscape emphasizes the bleakness and is monotonous to watch for an excessive length of time.

The action is brutal but numbing. For those not invested in surviving the tyrannical regime, this fourth go-round is tedious and dull.

‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2’

  • Director: Francis Lawrence
  • Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin and Natalie Dormer.
  • Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material.
  • Length: 2:17
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