The Hunger Games saga comes to a close with the second installment of Mockingjay, the third book in Suzanne Collin’s dystopian series about the 13 districts of Panem. It came as no surprise that fans of the franchise eagerly supported that conclusion to the franchise much like they did the first three movies.
The fourth movie picks up immediately after Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) rescue from the Capitol but a lot has changed about the friendly and compassionate baker that Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) fell in love with through the course of series. It was obvious that he was tortured and the sight of Katniss, which used to bring a guaranteed smile to his face, now has him calling for bloody murder. He is unstable and a threat but still, he is sent by President Coin (Julianne Moore) to join Katniss and her team on a mission to kill Snow to sate her political ambitions. But operating under a territory that is fully controlled by the enemy is pretty much like getting trapped inside The Hunger Games again and as with the games, not everyone will escape alive.
From the onset of the movie, it was pretty obvious that director Francis Lawrence was setting up to conclude the series. There was just a general sense of foreboding throughout the film that signaled the type of ending the film will deliver. It was dark and at times depressing, but kudos to the screenplay for the very compelling dialogue that underscored the grimness of war and politics.
Cinematography wise and treatment-wise, the film was very consistent with Mockingjay: Part 1 but because of the depressing tone of the mission, there were times that the character deaths were less highlighted and impacted less than it should.
I felt that the film focused on Katniss and her personal vendetta and did not include scenes of the general chaos in the Capitol to accent Katniss’ mission like it did in the previous movie (with the citizens marching to the Capitol on a suicide mission to bomb the gates). Because of this, their team felt disconnected and isolated from the war and the movie suffered because of it. I felt scenes depicting anarchy and chaos would have added a sense of magnitude to the film. Instead, the film opted for shock value and large scale booby traps which was kind of cool, but still not enough to depict the impact of war on the citizens.
Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Katniss’ chemistry was palpalable in their scenes together (perhaps because of their rumored budding romance) and unlike in previous movies, the bond between Katniss and Peeta was not as firmly established. Nor was Gale’s role in the final attack that cost him a possible relationship with the woman he loved, so the ending felt a bit weird. And I say this despite being prepared for the ending as I have read the The Hunger Games trilogy.
There were moments of acting brilliance from Jennifer Lawrence in the scene where she freaked out towards the end with only Buttercup the cat as her audience, but unfortunately, the cat stole the show when she looked unimpressed by Katniss’ dramatics.
Kudos to the filmmakers for its treatment of Plutarch Heavensbee’s (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) remaining scenes. It was a great tribute to a great actor that his character was highlighted properly in his last film appearance.
All in all, Mockingjay’ Part 2 was not my favorite film in the franchise and while it was well made, I felt that it was lacking something to become the exclamation point that the franchise needed to make an epic statement. Rather, it felt like a perfunctory period that said goodbye to the saga with a casual The End.