Director: Francis Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence takes arms against the world for the fourth time as in this concluding chapter of the dystopian sci-fi series.
As freedom loving fighter Katniss Everdeen, Hollywood’s highest paid actress offers a typically excellent performance of weary intensity.
She is given far less opportunity to display her fighting skills in this sombre episode.
It’s handsome, well acted and thoughtful, yet the dialogue is often uninspiring and it’s a long march to the action.
By adding scenes with human shields and a trail of refugees the script plunders contemporary concerns but doesn’t offer comment.
Initially we’re forced to put in a few hard yards ourselves as we’re re-introduced to the motivations of the characters and it’s almost a relief when war starts whittling away their numbers.
As her comrades die in the cause of freedom, Katniss longs to fight.
But Julianne Moore’s scheming rebel commander Coin considers Katniss a useful propaganda tool and refuses to let her.
When the unified rebel army marches on the Capitol, Katniss is embedded in a media platoon which contains both points of her love triangle.
But there isn’t much tension between hunky warrior Liam Hemsworth Gale and Josh Hutcherson‘s brainwashed former turncoat Peeta.
Both are fairly dull characters but with Sam Claflin’s maverick warrior Finnick married off, she hasn’t much to choose from.
When her squad commander is killed, Katniss takes charge and leads her team on a suicide mission.
Her target is to assassinate Donald Sutherland’s evil despot President Snow who is holed up in an opulent and heavily guarded mansion.
As Katniss navigates the rubble strewn streets, she’s lumbered with a device which suspiciously resembles a game console.
It’s designed to detect Snow’s extraordinarily elaborate booby-traps.
The troops combat floods, flame, friendly fire and ferocious underground ghouls.
Friends and family are killed or captured as they trek through the terrain of the fallen city and Katniss has a suicide pill should her plan fail.
Though the foreboding tone is sensibly free of laughs, the regular supporting cast bring smiles of recognition.
Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci don their fabulous costumes one last time and a shambling Woody Harrelson adds some welcome warmth.
The late Philip Seymour Hoffman has a surprisingly large amount of screen time in a final hurrah for his great talent.
Four years ago Lawrence was a little known actress.
Now due in no small part to The Hunger Games’ billion dollar success, she’s firmly and deservedly part of the A list.
By tackling the themes of war, freedom, suffering and sacrifice in a measured and occasionally spectacular fashion, this franchise has raised the bar for the Young Adult genre.
But as solid and satisfying as the Hunger Games are, I’ve had my fill and I couldn’t stomach another one.