Katniss is back, and there's gonna be trouble.
The latest--and final--installment of the Hunger Games series is decidedly darker than the previous films, but brings it to a satisfying conclusion. The story picks up where Part One left off--with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) recovering from an unexpected physical attack by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), who was brainwashed while in captivity in the Capitol. Fueled by emotional pain and rage, Katniss no longer wants to just overthrow the ruthless President Snow (Donald Sutherland)--she's now determined to kill him. The leader of District 13, Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), refuses to allow her to join the rebel troops advancing on the Capitol, so Katniss sneaks aboard a supply craft headed there to support the impending invasion. When Coin discovers this, she opts to use Katniss for propaganda reasons. Katniss is no fool, and soon realizes she's being played by more than one player.
There's a hopelessness about the story, and several characters don't survive following Katniss on her quest for both revenge and freedom--but through it all, Katniss refuses to give up. No matter what Snow throws at her, she keeps moving forward, toward her objective. I'm not a fan of young adult fiction, dystopian or fantasy, but I've been hooked on this series from the start. Katniss' courage, borne out of her initial sacrifice to save her younger sister, Primrose, from becoming a "Tribute" in Snow's bloodthirsty Hunger Games, puts her in a class of rare young heroes that includes Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter. The character is well-developed and portrayed impressively by Lawrence.
There's also a love triangle, but it takes a back seat to the action. Both Peeta, now emerging from his brainwashing trauma, rediscovers his love for Katniss. Her childhood friend and partner in battle, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) also loves her. It's the sudden end of Katniss' relationship with Gale than I found the most frustrating part of the movie. Though there was an explanation--involving an attack on Snow's mansion that resulted in the deaths of children used as human shields (including Primrose Everdeen)--it just fell flat and seemed contrived.
When Snow's rule is overthrown and Coin assumes the role of president of Panem, Katniss is rewarded by Coin with the right to execute Snow. Katniss, however, has discovered there's a much bigger threat to Panem on the horizon than the ill and aging Snow. She makes a quick decision to eradicate that threat before it can take hold and leaves Snow's fate to an angry mob.
Plutarch (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) is not at all surprised by Katniss' action. In a letter to her at the end of the movie, he tells her she's never disappointed him....