J-Law hits her mark in ‘Mockingjay – Part 2’

When all — or nearly all — is said and done, toward the end of the 2 14-hour final film in and”The Hunger Gamesand” saga, Woody Harrelson, as the cynical Haymitch Abernathy, turns to Jennifer Lawrenceand’s arrow-slinging heroine Katniss Everdeen and voices what, at that point, is probably what everyone in the audience is thinking.
and”Katniss,and” he wisecracks, and”Iand’ll say this for you: You donand’t disappoint.and”
As the dystopian epicand’s emotional, moral and physical heart, Lawrence once again delivers the best reason to stick with it. Closing out the franchise inspired by Suzanne Collinsand’s literary trilogy, and”Mockingjay – Part 2and” picks up virtually where and”Part 1and” left off: with a close-up on Lawrenceand’s battered face. Her expression, full of steely resolve, commands our attention in a way that the film that follows does only sporadically.
Last yearand’s and”Part 1and” set up the story of Katniss as a revolutionary leader, fighting a repressive regime with a war of propaganda. Katniss — or the Mockingjay, as her followers have come to call her — became the face of a viral rebellion, appearing in slick videos meant to rally and inspire the troops. But that story (or half-story) was the equivalent of Katniss drawing back her bow, and it ended, as if in freeze-frame, with an arrow metaphorically poised to fly.
In and”Part 2,and” the missile is, at long last, released, as Katniss doesnand’t just pose for the camera, but penetrates, with a squad of hand-picked rebel fighters and the documentary crew following them (Natalie Dormer, Elden Henson and Wes Chatham), deep into enemy territory. The film follows her attempt to assassinate President Snow (Donald Sutherland), head of the government that keeps most of the citizens of Panem in chains.
Almost as aerodynamic as her arrow, in a form-fitting, all-black military ensemble that makes her look both formidable and foxy, Katniss spends most of this movie making her way slowly — and I do mean slowly — through the streets of Panemand’s capital toward Snowand’s heavily defended compound. Though deserted, the city has been booby-trapped by the same game designers who previously entertained the ruling elite, and us, with creative mayhem. Trip-wired machine guns, flamethrowers and a tsunami of black goo have been set up to explode, like landmines, throughout the city.
This makes for something of a cinematic slog. Itand’s slow going as Katniss and company, which includes her rival boyfriends — Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), freshly de-programmed from Snowand’s mind-control lab (or is he?) — simply try to avoid getting killed.
The first half of the film feels overly cautious, never really picking up a pulse until our heroes are attacked in the sewers by a horde of slimy gray mutants called Mutts. Itand’s great, exciting filmmaking, for something that is mostly CGI.
And yet still there is an hour to go before Katnissand’s final projectile finds its mark.
Who winds up getting it in the end is supposed to be a twist. But even those who havenand’t read the books will see it coming from a long way off. The thwack of the arrowhead feels satisfying, as closure goes, but perfunctory.
Most of the pleasure of and”Mockingjay – Part 2and” comes from watching Lawrence, not the story around her. Her aim is true, even if the narrative arc of the movie traces a long, wobbly arc toward its eventual, and not exactly happy, resting place.
Two-and-a-half stars out of four. Contains intense sequences of violence and action. Runs 136 minutes. (c) The Washington Post 2015


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