Jennifer Lawrence emerged as a movie star less than four years ago with her sterling performance in The Hunger Games. She has been much the best thing in the series since then, and that remains true in the final episode, hereinafter referred to as Mockingjay — Part 2 .
Picking up where Mockingjay — Part 1 left off, the new film finds Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) recovering from injuries she suffered at the conclusion of the previous episode. Now it is time for the rebels against the dictatorship of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) to push through into the Capitol and overthrow the government, and Katniss is eager to join the battle and deliver the death blow of revenge upon the evil Snow. Katniss is held in check, however, by President Coin (Julianne Moore), who insists that Katniss remains most effective as a spokewoman and rallying cry for the rebellion. Meekly, Katniss agrees.
Katniss is assigned to a media unit, reuniting her with loyal friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), her other friend Finnick (Sam Claflin), and stern director Cressida (Nathalie dormer), all under military command. An early battle does not go well, and Katniss ends up in charge of the group, which is soon joined by Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the childhood friend and tentative romantic partner of Katniss who was brainwashed into opposition to her. Peeta is slowly recovering, but is still shaky, and is otherwise as wishy-washy as ever.
Mockingjay — Part 2 is a movie about a journey, which allows plenty of time for platitudes to be exchanged and for multiple conversations to drone in the foreground as the group presses onward in the background. Director Francis Lawrence is an experienced journeyman with no particular flair for the action sequences, which are spaced by screenwriters Peter Craig and Danny Strong so that they occasionally break up the talk, talk, talk.
Through it all, Lawrence adds sparks and spunk, enlivening scenes whenever she appears. That’s to the benefit of the movie, since she is (unofficially) on screen for more than 90% of the time. Katniss is the embodiment of a resolutely sullen teenager, who yearns only to do the things that she likes to do, namely, hunt animals with her bow and arrow and spend time with the ones she loves without having to talk to anyone unless she wants to do so, occasionally.
A stronger installment than its predecessor, Mockingjay — Part 2 proves that Jennifer Lawrence can carry a movie with ease, which makes it worth its weight in gold.
The film opens wide through Dallas on Friday, November 20.