This is the fourth movie in the Hunger Games series and the final one at that. So there’s a lot of pressure put on this movie to deliver a thrilling climax to one of the biggest movie franchises of all time. Did it succeed?
Jennifer Lawrence returns as Katniss Everdeen, the symbol of a revolution in the dystopian world of Panem. In this final chapter, her team of rebels finally descend upon the Capital in hopes of assassinating the President (Donald Sutherland). Alongside Katniss is her sister Prim (Willow Shields), best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth), and her facade boyfriend and now brainwashed assassin Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). We also have Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Sam Claflin, Mahershala Ali, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, and the last performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Stanley Tucci and newcomer Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones) each only get one scene unfortunately.
As usual, Jennifer Lawrence carries this entire film. This movie almost moreso than the other films, as the supporting cast has gotten so huge that they almost spend less time on them altogether and focus more on Katniss by herself. Luckily, she delivers, especially in the last third, where we get some semblance of closure for this series. Josh Hutcherson also delivers an incredible performance. Jena Malone was fantastic but really didn’t get much to actually do, which is a shame.
Everyone else was fine but they just didn’t get much to do in the story.
I also applaud the action scenes in this film, which have always struggled a bit. Here, there’s an amazing scene in these sewers that might be one of the best “edge of my seat” action sequences that I’ve seen all year.
What doesn’t work?
The drama in this series has always been a little much and here, it’s no exception. Gale and Katniss’ interactions were especially laughable. They were meant to be sweet and sincere moments but instead the theater was laughing, which is never a good sign if it’s unintended. The love triangle component was really played up here.
Surprisingly, the film tried to play up those emotional moments but absolutely failed to capitalize on other emotional moments that we (especially readers of the books) were expecting. THE biggest moment of the story was too quick, confusing, and absolutely a letdown. When I walked into the theater, I knew that if the movie failed to make this moment count, it would have failed altogether. And it did. The stakes didn’t feel that high, as character deaths (yes, plural) were too quick and seemed unimpactful. Tons of missed opportunities.
The plot got really confusing following the climax. It wasn’t supposed to be, but it felt like there were cuts or edits made that somehow trimmed necessary exposition. “Why is she there? What happened to them? What is happening?” kept reoccurring in my mind, even though I had knowledge from the books as to what was supposed to be happening. I can imagine unknowing filmgoers might be even more disoriented.
Did this movie end on a high note? Kind of. Jennifer Lawrence’s outstanding performance and some stellar action sequences made this quite a rollercoaster but every other character got the short end of the stick and some were relegated to cameos. They focused on strange moments that dwelt for too long yet they passed up real opportunities, including a huge misstep in terms of the film’s biggest emotional punch. The closure felt confusing, likely due to cuts of exposition that turned out to be vital bits that we missed. It was fine overall but just full of missed opportunities.