After a dramatic two hour trailer in Mockingjay- Part 1 that led up to this, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 2 is finally here. While it’s predecessor was more of a political thriller, the finale delivers more on action. Unfortunately, the film’s closing act may be appreciated by book fans but leave film fans clueless.
After being attacked by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is ready to kill President Snow (Donald Sutherland) with extreme prejudice. Of course, that’s perfectly fine for President Coin (Julianne Moore) who has plans to become the new voice of power once the smoke clears. Tired of the politics, staged “propos”, and being a puppet/symbol for the opposition, Katniss decides she’s not going to listen to Coin’s orders (no surprise there) to stay behind the danger zone and get into the Capitol to kill Snow by any means necessary.
With a hybrid elite crew of soldiers we know, and those that we’re just meeting, Katniss slowly moves toward the Capitol under the leadership of Boggs (Mahershala Ali), protection of Gale (Liam Hemsworth), and wildcard addition of Peeta. Getting to the Capitol will be no easy feat, as the blocks surrounding it are layered with traps straight from the games, they have to rely on a Playstation like controller to detect the traps that are mapped- and it’s an old map, leaving room for possible unknowns.
The fight to get to the Capitol is filled with action, and the occasional heartwarming conversation between soldiers willing to fight for one another, and the collective freedom of Panem. Unfortunately, there is a lot of allusion to the love triangle of Katniss, Peeta, and Gale that slows the film down. Rather than having a straight up conversation about it, Katniss fakes sleeping while the boys talk, Gale makes a comment about kissing Katniss being like kissing a drunk person, and other moments are made in a clear attempt to adapt the triangle from the novel to the screen. It’s cringeworthy.
Without giving anything away, once Katniss arrives at her destination, the film relies on the crutch it has seemed to be in a pattern of using. Something happens, Katniss wakes up, and everything is explained to us. It’s a poor way of storytelling that is undeserved for such an iconic female heroine that we’ve grown to love. Especially when the outcome would have been more earned and satisfying.
The ensemble amassed for the The Hunger Games series is quite impressive. Names like Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson-- I could keep going but I think my point is made-- are a hollywood dream team. It’s part of the reason that for adults we’ve easily forgotten that the film is based off of Young Adult material. In that sense, it’s been a pleasure to watch. Unfortunately, Josh Hutcherson is out of his league, and in such a key role, brings down the film. While he’s had some growth over the past four films, he still looks like a fish out of water, and is a weak link that in retrospect should have been replaced.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 2 is an action-packed, melodramatic bookend to a rather exciting series. Director Francis Lawrence deserves a lot of credit for making the world of Panem come to life. At no point do you feel like you’re watching a CG heavy film, but every setting feels real and every explosion has palpable weight, creating an immersive experience for the viewer. It’s just too bad that we get a final act away from the finish line, only to be tripped, and spoon fed an ending to a redefining genre film.