The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Mockingjay Part 2 brings Hunger Games franchise to a climactic, gut-wrenching, and overall satisfying conclusion
With this overwhelmingly grim finale, the Hunger Games comes to an climactic, gut-wrenching, and (for those of you who have not read Suzanne Collin’s trilogy) surprising conclusion. While the final film may not stand on it’s own, it is fitting ending to one of the most beloved franchises of our time.
While what I loved about the first film (namely the realistic cinematography of Tom Stern) is long gone, it has been made up for by the beautiful work of Jennifer Lawrence and her supporting cast. Lawrence entered this franchise as a Sundance starlet and exit it as one of the most sought-after actors of her generation. She embodied Katniss from beginning to end, refusing to settle into gender stereotypes and leading an army against an oppressive government in a world that is similar enough to ours to be disconcerting but different enough to maintain the safe cathartic environment of the movies. With her help, the Hunger Games franchise has produced the 3 largest openings ever for a film with a female-lead.
As the clunky title The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 suggests, this final installment of the Hunger Games Saga is the second part of a finale split into two films. Part 2 picks up where Part 1 left off: the once small rebellion has blossomed into a full-on war and Katniss is recovering from her fellow victor Peeta’s traumatic attempt to kill her.
Sitting by and watching her fellow rebels do all the work is no longer an option so Katniss quickly steals away to the front lines where we are introduced to her new squad, including her hunky love-interest Gale (Liam Hemsworth), the charismatic victor Finnick (Sam Claflin), a tattooed filmmaker Cressida (Natalie Dormer), and serious Commander Boggs. They are quickly joined by Peeta, rounding out Katniss’ love-triangle with Gale. Katniss makes it her mission to end the war by killing President Snow (played by a matter-of-fact Donald Sutherland) and in order to do so, the squad must navigate through a city of booby traps that include a sewer of zombies.
Many of the well-loved characters from the first 3 films appear only long enough to say goodbye to their loyal fans (Stanley Tucci, Jeffrey Wright, and Philip Seymour Hoffman among them). Jena Malone diffuses the tension with her quick wit and understandable hatred for the bad guy while empowering Katniss to continue her fight. While Effie (Elizabeth Banks) and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) have served to lighten the mood in the past, in Part 2 their comedic interactions are toned down to almost nothing, bringing Sutherland’s President Snow to the front of the list of silly characters.
This timeless story of rebellion, family, and sacrifice could not come at a more opportune time in history. And lead by Jennifer Lawrence, it could not have resonated more with audiences. While I won’t spoil the ending for those of you who have not read Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, I will say that there is an unnecessary coda that involves a couple sitting in a gleaming meadow. The inconsistency with the rest of the film is reminiscent of the epilogue in the Harry Potter series and doesn’t belong. Unfortunately, had Director Francis Lawrence ended the film a moment earlier and the whole saga would ended on a more satisfying note. Despite this tacked-on scene, Mockingjay Part 2 is an overall satisfying (albeit grim) end to an epic tale of strength.