Picking up directly where the previous film ended, we learn that Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and a small team of soldiers are going to assist in taking back the Capitol on the orders of the leader of the rebellion, Coin (Julianne Moore). When traversing the Capitol proves to be troublesome they are forced to bring along the traitorous Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) due to his knowledge of the area. Surrounded by Capitol soldiers, thousands of booby traps and vicious muttations devised by the Gamemakers, the heroes find themselves participating in the most deadly Hunger Games of them all.
Sure the acting is top notch from all involved. All the films have excelled in this department. Jennifer Lawrence makes playing Katniss seem effortless, Liam Hemsworth finally gets to shine in a much expanded role and Josh Hutcherson plays the unbalanced Peeta with equal parts earnestness and a surprising amount of menace. Donald Sutherland doesn’t have much screentime this time around, but his presence is definitely felt and he gives his scenes near the end a nice touch of evil desperation. Julianne Moore plays a variation of Sutherland’s character as one whose morals have slipped away the longer she fought for independence. Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks are barely in the film at all and basically show up for one last curtain call and that’s it. The rest of the cast is fine in their respective roles. I wish there were more for Sam Clafin to do as Finnick, but unfortunately the focus shifted away from him in this film.
When there is action it isn’t all that great and consists of the characters running away from something chasing them. There is one that stands out and that is where the main players are attacked in the sewers by wave after wave of faceless muttations. It’s very suspenseful and is presented competently when compared to the rest of the action beats.
Regardless, the film (finally) gets to the thrilling finale where some crazy shit goes down (I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t read the books or seen the film yet) before the end credits roll. It’s ballsy and doesn’t take the easy route (which is why I feel most people complain about the novel), so I give it props for sticking to its guns. Outside of that the useless and overly cheesy epilogue still sucks no matter what medium in which it’s presented.
2.5 out of 5