Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore.
Written by: Peter Craig, Danny Strong and (adaptation and novel “Mockingjay”) Suzanne Collins
Running Time: 137 mins
Release date: 19th November 2014
A couple of words of warning before stepping into the second part of the final part of The Hunger Games. Firstly, if you haven’t seen Mockingjay Part 1 or, in fact, any other HG films, then you will be as lost as someone in the middle of a forest without a map or compass. Mockingjay Part 2 doesn’t mess around with recaps. It picks up immediately where part 1 ended. Secondly, don’t start putting on your coat too soon because like that other famous trilogy, The Lord Of The Rings, the final part had countless false endings. This one manages to have even more than The Return Of The King.
With the battle-lines drawn between the Rebels, led by President Coin, and the Capital, led by by President Snow, Katniss has to face her fears again as she is brought in to lead the fight through the streets, all of which are boobie-trapped. Not only does she have to contend with a bitter passion for revenge against Snow but now that Peeta is back, even though he is brain-washed into wanting Katniss dead, she has to decide her feelings towards him and Gale.
The big question is, does this work as well as Mockingjay part 1? I, personally, thought that MJ1 was the best of the series, a giddy mix of media satire with strong revolutionary politics, it may have been action-lite but it had plenty of opportunities for the strong cast to really show their acting prowess. This time, however, by separating the two films, it takes a long time to get going. we get plenty of scenes in which the main actors talk about the future and the revolt but it’s all been discussed before.
Then midway through, it hits into its stride and delivers what you would expect from a finale to a popular action series: a central set piece that grips, shocks and surprises, as Katniss and her team, wander the empty streets of the Capital, trying to dodge the various traps set up by Snow and his Game makers. We get enormous flame-throwers, machine-gun fire and, most impressively, a tidal wave of oil that leaves you gasping. Not to mention an extended scene inside the sewers that wouldn’t look out-of-place in Alien.
The trouble is, after leaving us breathless with the best action sequences this series has offered, we get into a muddled final act that doesn’t know when to end. Just when you think the final credits are about to start, we get another scene…and another…and another. It does become almost like a joke and doesn’t exactly make you leave the cinema a happy customer, especially after having given over so much time on the series before,
Thankfully, the performances make up for the disappointing denouement. Jennifer Lawrence has grown into the role of Katniss and here she takes her to a whole new level. Having been through so much, this is a young woman scarred by death and horror that she becomes almost numb, almost completely absorbed with pain and agony. Yet there is still more to endure. Lawrence is such a skilled actress that we see every inch of the scarring in her eyes. She has created, over the past four years, an iconic female character and role model, one that suffers as much as triumphs.
Donald Sutherland, too, has excelled as Snow, a man so driven by power. Having him pitted against Lawrence’s Katniss has been a pleasure to explore. The rest of the cast has gone from strength to strength over the series but it is still tinged with sadness every time we see the excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman on-screen, in this, his final ever role. It was while he was filming that he so tragically passed away and the film does feel empty, especially in a scene in which Woody Harrelson reads a letter that Seymour’s character, Plutarch, had written, with the knowledge that those words should have been spoken instead of recited.
So we end The Hunger Games more on a whimper than with fireworks. The middle section is worthy of the rest of the series, as are the performances. Shame the ending was such a let-down. Overall, a disappointing way to end a decent series.