The spectre of war casts a long shadow over the penultimate chapter of the blockbusting dystopian thrillers based on Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 follows the lead of the Harry Potter sagas by cleaving the final book in two.
This decision — driven as much by greed as artistic necessity — results in a dark, brooding two hours of self-sacrifice almost devoid of the propulsive action sequences of the earlier films.
Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of reluctant heroine Katniss Everdeen, a pawn in the battle of wits between the money-rich Capitol and the impoverished Districts, remains a mesmerising constant.
She delivers another emotionally bruising performance, especially in early scenes. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is the calm before the storm of full-blown conflict.
It’s a slower burn than previous films and lacks some of the on-screen electricity, but Lawrence burns bright as the eponymous “girl on fire”.