As the first of the two-part finale to The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay Part 1 proves that a movie can be simultaneously intriguing and forgettable at the same time.
After the events of Catching Fire, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is living in District 13, the secret underground headquarters for the rebellion that seeks to overthrow The Capitol and free the country of Panem. While Katniss’ actions in The Hunger Games have sparked rebellion across the country, she’s reluctant to lead the rebels and is traumatized from the many horrific things she has experienced, most notably the destruction of her home of District 12 by The Capitol. But she must choose her future and the future of the country when she becomes The Mockingjay, the face and spirit of the rebellion.
While summing up the setup for Mockingjay Part 1 should not constitute a spoiler for the film, it actually gives away far more of the story than you may expect. That’s because barely anything happens in this movie. Entire character arcs can be said in a handful of words and the place where the story concludes is not far from where it began. That’s because this is the adaptation of half a novel. A novel where the most memorable, and shocking, events happen in rapid succession within the second half, none of which are included here.
Thankfully, Mockingjay Part 1 manages to avoid being a waste of time thanks to the strong performances and memorable world that fill the screen. As always, Lawrence helps make Katniss into a strong and relatable hero, even when her actions beg for you give up on her. She’s a difficult protagonist. While her post-traumatic stress disorder and strong will make her more layered and human than most heroes, she still resists the forward momentum of the plot. It doesn’t help that she spends the vast majority of screen time locked down in the underground bunker of District 13, whose residence seem to live within the Kyln prison from Guardians of the Galaxy, except with fewer sentient raccoons and trees to liven things up.