Director: Francis Lawrence
Staring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Natalie Dorma
Running Time: 2 hours 17 mins
Release Date: 19th November 2015
It’s finally time for the very last installment of THE HUNGER GAMES franchise, MOCKINGJAY PART 2, and not since the days of HARRY POTTER has a YA book adaptation captured the imagination of so many. With Francis Lawrence back in the directors chair, the Hunger Games might be over but Katniss’ (Jennifer Lawrence) battle with Snow (Donald Sutherland) is only just beginning.
With her neck covered in dark bruises, her throat swollen and her voice still hoarse from Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) deranged attack against her; our Mockingjay is back on her feet and ready to save Panem from Snow’s deadly reign. Once the rebellion neutralized the Capitol’s weapon supply, Katniss’ realises she must sneak into the city’s center and infiltrate Snow’s mansion but with her status as the Mockingjay leaving her open to dangers from both sides it’s not going to be easy.
The main chunk of narrative is taken up by Katniss’ trek through the crumbling Capitol with her team of soldiers, ‘The Star Squad’; including Boggs (Mahershala Ali), Cressida (Natalie Dormer), Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Finnick (Sam Claflin) and a still desperately damaged Peeta. Katniss is determined to make it to Snow’s mansion but the dreadful game makers have rigged her path with countless tricks and traps with deadly consequences.
This section of the film is by far the most thrilling and there are glimmers of the kind of excitement that did so well in the first two films. With pits like ginormous flame throwers, gargling pools of deadly black liquid and some of the most hauntingly vicious mutts the Capitol could have created; death is around every corner and its here we lose a fan favourite character, as Finnick meats a violent end just days after marrying Annie.
It’s within these scenes that Francis Lawrence’s talent shines most as he appears most confident and comfortable directing these almost post-apocalyptic scenes; with what once was the glamorous Capitol now a ghostly tomb. There were moments where his previous work vibes through the streets of the Capitol, with those nasty mutts reminding one of the horrors in I AM LEGEND.
Still, this excitement doesn’t last too long and before we know it the action is over. The pacing feels like fits and bursts and as soon as the War between the Capitol and the Rebels begins, it’s pretty much over with a large bang and Prim’s death. It’s all down hill from here as the narrative dribbles off like a leaky tap, leading us to President Coin’s murder by Katniss, her return to what’s left of District 12 and then her sentimental end with Peeta and their children.
The real trouble is that MOCKIGJAY PART 2 sticks utterly faithful to the book but it just doesn’t relay well on screen, unlike the films three predecessors. This is hugely due to the third book being split into two movies as the careless money making trick poisons the film with it’s blundering narrative. There is joy to be found for book lovers as the sweet ending does spur on emotions of fondness for these much loved characters, but after such highly-charged themes of rebellion and carnage, it feels more anticlimactic than heartwarming.
While there are more flaws to the finale than this fan had hoped, there’s still some great performances to be found and an interesting take on gender roles and representation. What is so brilliant about Katniss and her role as the Mockingjay is that she’s never a token women in a world of dominating men.
Throughout the franchise there are always strong women to be found and it’s actually quite a refreshing look at women in these dystopian-esque narratives. Alongside Katness, we have the likes of Joanne, played brilliantly by Jena Malone, Dorma’s Cressida and Michelle Forbes plays Bogg’s second in command, Lieutenant Jackson. Women in THE HUNGER GAMES franchise are well written, diverse and complicated characters that do well not to be overtly pigeonholed as either token badass or damsel in distress.
There’s no real complicated reason why MOCKINGJAY PART 2 is an anticlimactic end to what started out as a brilliant franchise and it’s simply down to this cash-cow system of splitting one book into two mediocre movies.
With it’s often clunky script and it’s mismatched pacing MOCKINGJAY PART 2 feels like a wasted opportunity and actually a bit of a let down; which is devastating when fans have fallen so completely in love with the characters and narrative.
It’s by now means a bad film, there’s great entertainment to be had in Katniss’ last fight and one can still find a bond with these much loved characters but it just doesn’t work as well on screen as it could have.