Movie Review: The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 2

In the Hollywood tradition of well-oiled mega million franchise vehicles Mockingjay Part 2 delivers fan expectations, but the movie-splitting ploy turns a grand finale into a perfunctory ending and diminishes whatever refreshing depth it has managed to say in a genre that does little thinking.

With the nation of Panem in a full scale war, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) confronts President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in the final showdown. Teamed with a group of her closest friends – including Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Finnick (Sam Claflin) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) – Katniss goes off on a mission with the unit from District 13 as they risk their lives to liberate the citizens of Panem, and stage an assassination attempt on President Snow who has become increasingly obsessed with destroying her. The mortal traps, enemies, and moral choices that await Katniss will challenge her more than any arena she faced in The Hunger Games. [Lionsgate]

Finally, here we are, the end to the Hunger Games franchise. After the blatant cash grab that is Mockingjay Part 1, fans can finally enjoy some action with Part 2.

The final chapter does fulfill fan expectations. Mockingjay Part 2 features the 76th Hunger Games held in the Capitol. Traps, called “pods”,  are scattered throughout the evacuated city. They release weapons designed to kill rebels in creative ways. Mentioning them would be spoilerific, so I’m going to leave that to your imagination.

The young cast benefits from their built up experience since the first movie. Jennifer Lawrence delivers a more nuanced performance as she alternates between resolve and vulnerability. Josh Hutcherson is convincing as the brainwashed Peeta. Liam Hemsworth is still a bland cardboard, but he’s adequate enough. The rest of the supporting cast, a chunk of which are veterans, did well with what they’re given.

While Mockingjay Part 2 is able to tick everything in the YA box office checklist – romance, tragedy, well produced action set pieces – the final installment clearly suffers from the Hollywood trend of maximizing every ounce of material until its essence dilutes into nothing.

Part 2 suffers from pacing problems. It starts with a slow self-summary, speeds up through the action scenes, and then winds down in between to insert repetitive drama. As a result the action scenes fail to build up around a determined Katniss, whose knight turned mass murderer shares a tepid competition with her workman husband turned mopey assassin. The characters who could have added color to a perpetually gloomy atmosphere were given little screen time, such as Johana who calls out her co-player’s tacky romance and chosen one life story in an amusing moment of self-awareness.

The franchise’s satirical spin on twisted entertainment and contemplative thoughts on imagery is now replaced by war and political intrigue. Mockingjay commits to its portrayal of young deaths but their meaning is lost in a movie that has morphed into Game of Thrones sans the nudity and rape.

According to research, the film stayed mostly faithful to the ending. While the third act managed to pull a good surprise for non-book viewers, it looked tacked on in a movie adaptation that has no time for mourning losses.

Overall, fans will find what they want to see. However, those who were converted along the way will end up with a mediocre blockbuster.

My Rating: 6/10

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