The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2 is an exciting and satisfying conclusion to a very fun franchise: 3.75/5
It takes about 30 minutes for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2”, the latest and final entry in the popular young adult franchise, to become its own movie. But after that period has worn off, the film springs to life. This is the most action-driven film in this action franchise, and the most emotionally impactful of a franchise admittedly heavy-handed on raw emotion and character moments. If you can say something about “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2”, it’s that it gives you more of everything. But I guess the question is, “Do we really want it?”?
I can firmly say that I was wholly satisfied with the results of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2”. This is rather impressive, to still manage to impress viewers even after the rest of the franchise. In these kinds of franchises, the last installment is almost equally as difficult to pull off as the first one. As the first installment has to do justice to the original source, the last one has to do the same, yet still honoring its predecessors.
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2” does just that. Katniss Everdeen (who has become actress Jennifer Lawrence’s most popular role) reaches her emotional and physical breaking point in this film, as she decides to bring the ongoing rebellion to a close, by marching right into The Capitol, the birthplace of all the oppression directed at the Districts, and kill vicious tyrant President Snow (Donald Sutherland). And after everything that has happened to her, Katniss pulls no punches. Neither does this movie. It gets so dour and hopeless that it sometimes leans into the overly depressing. But, again, it seems just right, as the films leading up to this one have gotten increasingly dramatic leading up to this one, so it seems only natural.
And now that we’re on the subject of Katniss, she has been the constant throughout this entire series. This is the role that has launched Jennifer Lawrence into the stratosphere of Hollywood fame, and now is moving onto other things, Oscar things, but she seemingly hasn’t gotten tired of Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire. But if she is, it’s damn good acting.
The Hunger Games itself referrers to a gladiatorial fight in which a boy and a girl from each of the twelve districts duke it out in a bloodbath used for entertainment. That concept is all delightfully Bradbury-esque, but The Hunger Games franchise is really all about Katniss, who always stands out in a wide field of strong actors. She stays an intriguing character, emotional, broken, but endlessly watchable. She has gone through some things through these movies, like having her love Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) captured by the Capitol. Sure, it slows her down, but she never lets anyone be in control of the situation except her. This character is sure to live on longer than any of these movies will hold up. She’s beautiful, gorgeous really, but the “get out of my way” beautiful. She’s an emotional, but they’re the strong emotions. Confidence, bravery. She deserves to be mentioned in the same conversation with the other great female action characters. Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, and Katniss Everdeen.
The action set pieces are fun, different, but somehow paralleling the Games as they were in the first couple of films. They’re awfully brutal, too. I won’t spoil what they are, they’re actually quite surprising and keep the audience guessing. The enforcement of surprise also makes the film quite inconsistent, eagerly jumping back and forth between emotional lament and fast-paced, run-for-your-life action. Glass-half-full people have a phrase for that. It called “keeping the audience on their toes”. More pessimistic people call it “tonally inconsistent”. As a critic, looking on both sides of the coin, I suppose it is both.
And so concludes one of the defining franchises of this decade, and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2” is a satisfying send-off. This is a bittersweet ending to these characters, and we will miss them. Say that something goes on to long all you want, but the end is the end.