The main draws of the first two Hunger Games movies were the thrilling and terrifying nature of the games themselves and the frivolous corruption of the Capitol. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) was our guide, and after her selfless act (volunteering to take her sister’s place in the games), she served mainly as an action hero. As those movies progressed, Katniss became romantically tied to her teammate, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and her tie to him remains strong in this third installment. Unfortunately, this picture has neither games nor Capitol nor action. Instead, there’s a lot of Katniss pining for Peeta.
As the film opens, Katniss is ensconced in a drab underground facility that hides rebels under the leadership of the steely and completely uninteresting Julianne Moore. The primary conflict is whether Katniss will assist the rebels for propaganda purposes, and when she balks because of their hostility towards Peeta, who appears to be a collaborator, it is annoying. When she continues to prove difficult after surveying the carnage wrought against her own district (90,000 dead) and witnessing the Capitol bombing a rebel hospital she had just visited, it is very annoying. Her actions might be better accepted if she didn’t seem so mature; Katniss of the books is a teen while Lawrence is mid twenties.
There are bright spots. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson return, providing the film necessary humor and spark. And this is clearly a set-up for what one hopes to be a big finale. Let’s just hope Lawrence doesn’t appear to be in her early 30s, still reluctant to play a featuring role in the rebellion because she is mooning over Peeta.