Movie Review: Mockingjay, Part 2
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymore Hoffman, Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson.
When we last saw Katniss Everdeen, she was grappling with the physical and emotional effects of nearly being strangled to death by Peeta Mellark, who didn’t exactly greet her with hugs and kisses after his rescue from the Capitol. During his capture, President Snow had been dosing him with tracker jacket venom and while he once looked at Katniss with love, now he’s now been conditioned to to perceive her as a threat. Hence the assassination attempt.
The fourth and final installment in the Hunger Games movie saga (based on the best-selling young adult series by Suzanne Collins) picks up right where part 1 left off. Katniss is still bruised and battered and the Rebels are doing all they can to recondition Peeta so they can use him on their side in the fight for freedom from Snow’s reign.
Much like its predecessor, the first hour or so of the movie is painfully slow. Too much time is spent on both characters getting well enough to fight on the front lines and the scenes are loaded with dialog. There is very little action and the film gets bogged down by uneven pacing.
Fortunately, the movie is well made and well cast, which helps make up for the the plodding first half. Jennifer Lawrence gives a mostly emotionless, yet realistic performance of a war weary soldier who has had to turn off feelings in order to see the battle through. Jena Malone isn’t given much screen time, but her zany character portrayal of Johanna Mason is fun to watch. We also get one last performance by Phillip Seymour Hoffman in his final role as Plutarch Heavensbee.
Things finally ramp up in the second half, when Katniss, who is still at odds with the Rebel’s leader President Coin, decides to go rogue. Coin wants her more for propaganda pieces rather than as a weapon out on the battlefield, but being the strong-willed heroine everyone looks up to, she eventually joins the fight and leads a team through the Capitol that includes Gale and Peeta. Their mission: kill President Snow.
After a sequence of harrowing attacks brought on by the game makers and the loss of several on her team, Katniss and Gale finally make it to the President’s mansion, just as the Rebels are making their final assault on the Capitol. The events that unfold thereafter cause Katniss to re-evaluate what she’s fighting for and ultimately leads her to a decision that may be surprising for those who haven’t read the books.
Like the three movies before it, Mockingjay Part 2 has many important political messages about tyrannical oppression, government overreach, poverty and starvation of the common people. Though futuristic, many of us watching the movie will see some of the same issues present in our society today. Neither the books nor the movies offer a real solution to the problems the people of Panem face – their purpose is to serve as more of an awareness piece on what can happen when you live in a society where the government has all the control.
The ending isn’t perfect, but every story has to come to a conclusion at some point and while there are some bright spots at the end for our girl on fire, she’s still left to wrestle with how to shape the future generations and deal with life after the revolution.