All good things must come to an end. And in the case of this teen novel series turned film franchise, it’s that time. As a fan of the book series, I have been pleased with the movies as a whole. Hunger Games was a solid adaptation that launched the career of Jennifer Lawrence. Catching Fire was a surprising improvement on the literary version. And even last year’s Mockingjay Part 1 was well crafted political commentary, albeit a relatively unnecessary creation due to the fact that it only tells half of a story. The silver lining, however, in giving the Mockingjay novel the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows treatment is that they saved most of the action for this installment.
Mockingjay Part 2 picks up right where the previous film left off. Reluctant revolutionary Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is recovering from the vicious attack from her Hunger Games bff, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), who has been tortured and brainwashed by the villainous President Snow (Donald Sutherland). But Snow, and the residents of the capitol are weakening, and with the 13 districts aligned, Katniss is ready to lead her other would-be boyfriend, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and a host of other returning characters into the capitol to assassinate Snow once and for all. They’ll only have to navigate miles of traps and vicious creatures to do so.
Like with Part 1, this film is really only half of a story. And from the start, it feels like we should be coming back from a scene change rather than starting a whole other film. But whatever Part 2 lacks in story structure, it makes up for in the substance of its characters and message. Mockingjay Part 2 may feature the greatest performances of any film in the series. Jennifer Lawrence is once again stellar, but Josh Hutcherson’s turn as a damaged Peeta is arguably the film’s most crucial portrayal. Throw in countless memorable anecdotes that leap from the pages and onto the screen with ease, and this film manages to satisfyingly hit its emotional chord.
And for those who may have found Part 1 a bit dreary from an action standpoint, there is much more to be found this time around. While there are still some periods of dryness, there are enough exhilarating scenes to keep you fully attentive, particularly when Katniss and her unit are attempting to navigate the capitol. At one point as their being briefed by Commander Boggs (Mahershala Ali), former Hunger Games victor Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) leans to Katniss and says “Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the 76th Hunger Games.” And that is exactly what the second half of the film feels like.
This is the end of the Hunger Games story. So expect to say goodbye to a few familiar faces. But regardless of whether you find the ending, and the somewhat anti-climactic death of one character, to make for a satisfying conclusion (I didn’t when I read the book), there’s simply no denying how thought provoking and emotional the series is. With the help of a remarkable cast and a well crafted overall story, the Hunger Games franchise comes to an end as four films well worth the price of admission.
FINAL GRADE: B+