Written by: Danny Strong & Peter Craig
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks
With all of the places set and all intentions laid on the ground, the time to finally act has come with all eyes set on the capital. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 means the big war of a generation has finally arrived. However, with the theory of “Parts 1 & 2” out of one book meaning one of the films will suffer, this evidently occurs here for the second one, not the first as this fumbles the bag in capping this overly intriguing quartet of films.
Now with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) back with the rebellion but still scarred from the mind games done to him at the capital, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) must reckon with how to move forward with him. Additionally, with her role as the Mockingjay complete with the uprising and war well on its way, she devises a plan to go straight to the source and assassinate President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
With all of the propaganda videos shot, the time to deliver on the promises of the rebellion is here with all-out war occurring on the streets. A capper one would think brings plenty of excitement, but in the end, could not muster much and serves as another reminder of why breaking down one book adaptation into two parts when a lack of density exists does not benefit the narrative. Looking at this feature in totality, it makes sense why many have argued this could have been one complete film out of two. At the very least, Part 1 had the complications of propaganda utilized in war but some could have been cut out to fill with whatever remnants of a story this feature had to add to the overall narrative. Instead, the film moves along in such an uninspiring manner until finally arriving at what we’ve been waiting for the entire time.
Most of the action in the three previous films occurred either in other districts or in the Hunger Games arena, however, this feature brings the fight to the capital, which has mostly been safe from any attacks. This changes and instead of being in battle, Katniss and her crew simply serve as more propaganda instead of being part of the fight. A decision that makes sense because the individuals here are not necessarily soldiers and more so serve as symbols for the rebellion to encourage surrender from the citizens. The scenes displayed here essentially turned the capital into more challenges as seen in the Hunger Games, which was certainly a choice but not a very captivating one. Sure, they needed to add some stakes but all of it just felt forced and uninspired.
As a “Part 2” and capper to a large story, this film refused to step up to the occasion, with most of it coming in the deaths. This overall story has done a great job in creating lovable characters for the audience to get attached to. Flaws and all, they become the lifeblood of the tale and the way some of them just get killed off feels a bit disjointed and not properly executed for the dramatic impact it should have on Katniss. There were many instances where an important character died and it became forgotten just a few moments later. The most heinous edition of this occurred with a character involved from the very beginning that sparked this entire journey, which just merely caused a laugh because of how unearned and out of nowhere it felt. Narratively and functionally it just did not work even if through the text, it became the defining death for Katniss’s final actions in this story. Perhaps this comes as a fault of what the source material provided but that has not stopped other filmmakers from improving upon what they received to work with.
The greatest moments the film had to offer came in the conversations in small rooms and what ultimately lies in the head of these characters as they make the biggest decision of their lives. Ruminating about war and the impact it has on the individual person along with what this new Panem would look like under the rule of President Coin adds some tension. Messaging remains important and that never gets lost in this film rightfully whether it be in the more personal conversations or realizing what one’s presence represents for the larger population. However, most of these conversations get muted for boring set pieces to add this excitement to a battle Katniss and the others should not really be involved with, which ultimately makes this film a bit hollow.
Filled with more action, but done so with less of a point, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 moves away from what made its predecessors so good in a political sense. So many scenes felt useless in order to add some action when the best came from the conversations carried over from the far superior Part 1. Instead, we get more fights and arrows being flung but not with the same venom contained before. An unfortunate final but one that does not completely erase the good work done in the previous installments.