It’s pretty shocking that “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” is such a suspenseful film. This time around there is less action and more talking. In fact, you could say that “Mockingjay Pt 1” is more of a political thriller this time around, and somehow it still manages to keep you glued to the screen.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is still the reluctant hero. She is broken from the games. She can’t sleep without having a nightmare. No matter how hard she tries to separate herself from “the games”, she’s pulled back in by the rebels who rescued her after she destroyed the Quarter Quell. The rebellion, led by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), is now going head to head with the diabolical President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in a battle of propaganda campaigns to try and stir the remaining districts to action or submission.
After seeing her home, District 12 now reduced to rubble and human remains at the hands of the Capitol, Katniss decides to become the rebellion’s mockingjay as long as her fellow Victors in the hands of the Capitol receive immunity. The mockingjay will be the symbol for the rebellion. On the flip side, the Capitol has made Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) their symbol. As each side tries to get their message out to the remaining districts an interesting commentary on how we’re influenced by media in the real world comes to the forefront. Each side appeals to stopping the loss of life, but from differing perspectives. One side wants the freedom to live, while the other wants self-serving order at the threat of killing more people to achieve it.
It’s easy to forget that you’re watching a movie based on a Young Adult book because of it’s political commentary but largely because of its stellar cast. Jennifer Lawrence’s ability to move from female action hero to complex, layered and lovable around the way girl reminds us why she’s an Oscar winner. Liam Hemsworth gets to step up from Katniss’ side romance to a more meaty role as Gale. Whether it’s newcomer Mahershala Ali (“House of Cards”) or veteran Philip Seymour Hoffman (in his final role) the acting is top notch across the board.
“Mockingjay Pt 1” is a good time at the movies. It slows down the franchise in a way that allows it to nail the tone of unrest and anticipation of things to come. Although we could have done without the splitting up of the film, it sets things up for an action oriented showdown next year!