Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Jennifer Lawrence stars as ‘Katniss Everdeen’ in THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 2. Photo Credit: Murray Close

 

The last time we saw Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), Panem was on the brink of war and she was being choked to death by her friend Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 opens where the last movie left off, literally. It opens with Katniss getting treatment for her bruised neck and Peeta is strapped to his bed like he’s Hannibal Lecter.

With the Captiol has been bombing other districts, President Coin (Julianne Moore) and her army from District 13 are visiting the other districts to get more support to take on President Snow and his army of not so peaceful peacekeepers.

Katniss wants to join the battle, but Coin and Plutarch (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) have other plans. They want Katniss to continue to be the “Mockingjay”, and follow days behind the rebels shooting propaganda videos. A defiant Katniss plans to kill President Snow, but getting close to the Capitol won’t be easy.

With her core group of  friends,  Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Finnick (Sam Clatflin), Cressida (Natalie Dormer) and Peeta, Katniss devises a plan to take out Snow but she isn’t sure who to trust – Peeta is still feeling the effects of the tracker jacker venom and Boggs (Mahershala Ali) warns Katniss that her popularity might lead to her death.

Mockingjay Part 2 has a huge cast and covers a lot of ground, but the film’s focal point is Katniss’ relationship with Peeta and the group’s suicide mission to the Captiol. It’s not Jennifer Lawrence’s best acting in the series and Josh Hutcherson spends 80% of his time staring into a distance like a dog waiting for its owner to come home. Yet, somehow their bizaro love story works. It mostly works because the camera cuts to Gale’s reaction every time Katniss and Peeta have an intimate moment. Gale knows he’s losing the Relationship Hunger Games by a landslide.

One of the the things the film does best is explain who Katniss is. She’s a symbol. She’s the Mockingjay, she’s not a soldier. She’s not a warrior.  Snow and Coin both use Katniss for their own political gains. They move her around like a piece on a chessboard, both hoping to checkmate before it’s too late.

Outside of the final Zero Dark Thirty style rescue at the end of Part 1, it was absent of any real action. Director Francis Lawrence rectified that this time around. The film’s best sequence, and possibly the second best sequence in the series (The Cornucopia Bloodbath scene is still the best) is an underground fight with “mutts” released by Snow. It’s an adrenaline packed 10-minute sequence that ends with a with the group having to fight their way out of a swarm of mutts. We FINALLY get to see the group use the skills they learned while training for the Hunger Games. Most of the time, they’re running to save their lives, or narrowly escaping a tragic death-by-pod scenario.

This isn’t the best movie of the series or even that fantastic of a film, but it’s a fitting end to Katniss’ story. My friend Brad made a good point – Unlike the books, there’s so much time between movies, the major scenes in the finale don’t carry much emotional weight because the audience hasn’t spent enough time with the characters. This doesn’t cheapen the film by any means, but it stops it from reproducing the same emotions that made the first film so loveable.

For fans for of the franchise, this is a satisfying end to a long journey. It ties up every storyline you can imagine. It’s got action, political drama and of course a love story. There’s no way we could move on if we didn’t know if Katniss chose the strapping soldier or the brainwashed bakery boy. Really? As if Gale even had a chance. He was friendzoned the minute Katniss volunteered at The Reaping in the first film.

If you’re a casual fan, like me, Mockingjay Part 2 is bitter sweet. You’re happy the series is coming to an end, but sad to say goodbye to great characters like President Snow, kids with weird names, Beete (Jeffrey Wright), Haymitch, Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) and Caesar Flickerman’s teeth.

The Hunger Games series will always have a soft spot in my heart for making me pessimistic about the future, but making me optimistic about the future of YA films. Sometimes they can be enjoyable if you just give them a chance.

Grade: B+

 

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