The third film of the wildly popular franchise, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” has a dark and ferocious tone, making it increasingly explosive. As the franchise has matured, so has its subject matter. The narrative is no longer about a girl who stood up for her little sister, but instead about a young woman who stood against a tyrannical government and its leader.
Rescued from the horrors of the Quarter Quell, the film opens, with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in District 13, a world she’d previously thought destroyed by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol. And yet, despite being forced into hiding, District 13 and its citizens have not only survived, but thrived. It’s a well-ordered society; led brilliantly and meticulously by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore). Without excess or frivolity, District 13 contrasts sharply with the over-saturated colors and superfluous settings of the Capitol.
So unlike the lush greenery and vast wildlife that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in the previous films, District 13 is gray and muted. The rigid order of living underground, along with the confining walls and tunnels of District 13 provide the perfect prison-like backdrop for Katniss’ uncertainty and uneasiness.
As Katniss battles with her ongoing depression, she finds herself unable to connect with those around her. She is constantly at the very edge of her sanity, unsure about her decisions and those of the people surrounding her; especially without Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) who has been a constant presence in her life since the beginning of The Games. Katniss’ sister, Primrose (Willow Shields) is the only one that seems to be able to breakthrough to her. Realizing that Katniss is in the position to make requests, since District 13 is counting on her to become the Mockingjay, Primrose convinces her to demand that Peeta be rescued from the Capitol.
This film is not at all the action-packed thriller that we’ve become accustomed to in this franchise. Instead, it’s a slow progression; a psychological analysis of Katniss as she struggles to become the symbol of a revolution. Continually mistrusting of those around her, terrorized by President Snow, and manipulated by President Coin, Katniss is obviously a pawn in a much larger game; one she is not sure that she’s willing to play any longer. The residents of District 13 are unsure of what to make of her. President Coin’s right hand man, Boggs (Mahershala Ali) is skeptical of Katniss immediately, and remains uncertain that she is the right person to lead the revolution. Torn between her conscience and the people of Panem, Katniss also finds herself stuck between her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and the boy she’s grown to love, Peeta.
Director Francis Lawrence, beautifully constructs a war film around a major facet of war and revolution: propaganda. After all, how are leaders of revolution born, if not for the way in which they captivate and mobilize their followers?
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