I have now seen the second half of a film I started watching a year ago, thanks to the decision to split Mockingjay, the final Hunger Games movie, into two parts. Of course said decision was made for the best possible artistic reasons, not to milk a cash cow…
Anyway, as a film, Mockingjay part 2 obviously does not stand alone, so if you haven’t seen any Hunger Games films, or read the books, don’t bother reading further. This details the final battle between Katniss and chums (including obligatory love triangle suitors Gale and Peeta) and the Capital, headed by the odious President Snow. But is resistance leader Coin just another dictator in waiting?
All this is decently acted, with Jennifer Lawrence terrific as ever in the lead. Able support is provided by Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth as well as the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore. Visually it all looks suitably grim and dour, with director Francis Lawrence helming events solidly. The action scenes are intermittently exciting, even if the special effects fail to convince at times. One underground sequence echoed James Cameron’s Aliens in a moderately effective albeit bloodless way. And yes – the film remains essentially faithful to the source material, albeit without quite the needed level of blood and guts.
Intriguing themes of totalitarianism, propaganda, power, corruption, failure to learn from history, and what is and isn’t acceptable from a side with supposedly the moral high ground in war remain in the background of the action, though for the most part fail to be as chilling as they should. Whilst still powerful, the film fails to quite capture the full irony, outrage and dramatic satisfaction of the novel’s superb climax – again perhaps partly because the story was split in two. I’m not sure every single bit of the very ending needed to be included either. For instance, I think the film would have benefited from a slightly less on-the-nose final scene. It worked well in the book, but here it feels like a Timotei commercial.
In short, Mockingjay part 2 is by no means a disaster, and if you liked the others, you’ll like this one. It is, however, still half a film.