Games over

At long last, The Hunger Games comes to an end with Mockingjay – Part 2, and not a moment too soon … although given Part 2 perhaps a movie too late.

The four-film franchise based on Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy (more on that later) has been a dubious one at best. Undeniably profitable thanks to a built-in audience, this futuristic farrago had proved long (and long winded), drawn-out, and unrewarding. Part 2 is slightly more tolerable than Part 1, but better is not good.

With trusty bow-and-arrows in hand, firmjawed Jennifer Lawrence reprises her role as emponymous Katniss Everdeen, leading the final charge against the corrupt despot President Snow (Donald Sutherland, having a little fun). One needn’t to have read the books to make an informed assumption how it turns out in the end.

Unfortunately, it takes 135 minutes to get there, much as Part 1 took 135 minutes to get to this point. Had the filmmakers combined the best scenes of the two films, thereby halving the box-office potential, Mockingjay might have squeaked by as passable. Once again, commerce trumps art. So, although the “good guys” win in The Hunger Games, the precise opposite might be said of the makers’ regard for the audience.

This is the sort of movie where competent action scenes are all but negated by uninspired storytelling, where characters crawl through sewers, dodging bullets and explosions, yet emerge without so much as a scratch – or even mussed hair. As someone noted during the screening “It’s just a movie.” Indeed it is, and not a very convincing one, even by its own standards.

The gang’s all here: Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer, Stanley Tucci and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman (in his final screen appearance), but few have much to do except clench their jaws and furrow their brows – which, as noted before, remain perfectly coiffed throughout. Some characters die and some survive, but it’s hard to invest much interest in them one way or the other.

But at least it’s over. (Let’s hope.) !