If you are deeply invested in “The Hunger Games” main characters, you will be more than satisfied with the final five minutes of “Mockingjay – Part 2.” Unfortunately, the 131 minutes that comes before are grim, sanctimonious, and downright dull. No kidding, you can probably skip them.
After two absolutely terrific opening chapters, I was willing to forgive “Mockingjay – Part 1.” As slow and dull as it was, when you know the whole idea is to set up the finale, you have to be willing to assume that once both parts are put together, you will have something worth the wait. A cinematic slow burn can be a very special thing, as long as there is a satisfying explosion at the end.
“Mockingjay – Part 2” opens with some promise. Katniss (a painfully dour Jennifer Lawrence) is still recovering physically and psychologically from Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) near-fatal assault. The war against the Panem Capitol and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has moved from a hit-and-run rebellion to full-scale. The districts have all united and the difficult moral choices that come with a civil war loom large.
The increasingly cynical Katniss doesn’t like what she is seeing from her own rebels, or the third-point in her love triangle with Peeta, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth). In a nice turn (the only one in the whole slog) her arrogance and moral equivalence nearly gets her killed. From here you are falsely led to believe that some major butt-kicking is about to commence. After all, our heroine has just learned the hard way that the bad guys are indeed bad guys. Now that everyone’s conscience is clean, it’s time to go on a rampage, no?
For the next two hours, other than one just-okay five-minute action scene in a storm sewer, “Mockingjay – Part 2” poses as a serious treatise about the cost of war on the warrior’s soul. The only thing is that there have been plenty of exciting and satisfying movies about the cost of war on the warrior’s soul: “Mockingjay – Part 2” is not one of them. Not even close.
No tension. No suspense. Just a lot of gray cinematography, small rooms, sanctimonious speeches, and penetrating, thousand-yard stares. The death of a beloved character comes so far out of left field, you’re robbed of the emotional impact.
With the intention of televising it, as the rebels close in on the Capitol, Snow decides to use his game-makers to booby-trap the city. If that sounds awesome, it’s because that sounds awesome. The execution, however, leave so much to be desired you might ask for a refund.
Honestly, by the time the credit’s rolled, my butt was so numb I could hardly walk.
My butt never lies.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC