The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Review
Suzanne Collins, Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Julienne Moore, Phillip Seymour-Hoffman
- Jennifer Lawrence's performance
- Tense, thrilling & emotional for the most part
- Whiny Katniss
- Ending lets the movie down
- Phillip Seymour-Hoffman :(
Have you written an epic, three-part story with an eponymous hero (ideally a strong female) battling against the odds for the good of the people/mankind? Well, the chances are you’ll get a four-part movie deal out of it, featuring beautiful young actors. All joking aside, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series of books (and now movies) have been the best of decidedly lackluster bunch, rising head and shoulders above it’s “peers” to end up being quite a tense and engaging story.
Saying that, Mockingjay Part 2 is possibly my least favourite of the series of movies, despite me generally enjoying it. Let me explain why that is, though I’ll be as vague as I possibly can so I don’t include any spoilers. But, this review will contain some spoilers for the preceding movies, so if you haven’t watched them, stop reading now.
Still here? Then let’s begin. Also I’ll clarify that I haven’t read the books, so I’m purely basing my opinion on the movies.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 picks up directly after the end of part 1, where Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) was released to the resistance, but was brainwashed into trying to kill Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence). Not one to let this get her down, Katniss is eager to get back into the action and take her sweet revenge on President Snow (Donald Sutherland), but finds a hurdle in the form of President Coin (Julienne Moore). After overcoming this obstacle, she and a band of recruits make an incursion into the Capital.
When I first watched the Hunger Games, I was really impressed with the artistic direction of the film, and Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of the protagonist. Here was a strong, passionate girl of 16 who was a total badass who could handle herself, inciting a revolution just by her having ah fuck you attitude to the establishment that’s oppressed the masses for 74 years. It was like having a western iteration of Battle Royale, with more involved characters and more of a story.
As the series has progressed, the spectacle has evolved, with the second film being ramped up with the prior victors of the Hunger Games facing off against each other. Throw in the subversive undertones of an ulterior political agenda and you had a recipe for something epic. However the third and fourth movies brought forward a less interesting facet of Katniss’ personality – the needy, whiny and moping Katniss.
I’m told that this is largely because all of her decisions revolve around Peeta and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), but this kind of pissed me off a bit. You have this young, confident woman who knows her own mind and who can take care of herself… but then because the story develops into an odd love triangle (with not much love, somehow), Katniss’ character reverts back to the stereotypical weak-willed woman again.
I’m under the impression that this is because there’s only so much someone can take before they break. With the kind of thing that the character has had to endure, it’s understandable… but unfortunately the tonal shift in the last two movies is palpable, which transfers to the audience. In my head, I started to care less about what she wanted and more about lesser characters. This isn’t really what you want when you have a movie revolving around said character.
When it comes to the performances in the film, I was happy with them all. Lawrence is really compelling and has a real talent for portraying the mentally-exhausted and emotionally broken Everdeen. This is particularly evident in a scene towards the end of the film where she has a one-way dialogue with a cat.
Liam Hemsworth does a good job now that his character gets some substantial screen time (having taken a back seat for most of the series), but is ultimately overshadowed by Lawrence’s gutsy performance.
Both Sutherland and Moore do well in their respective authority roles, both equally benevolent and repulsive all at the same time in what you could see as a predictable outcome to the proceedings.
It’s Phillip Seymour-Hoffman’s final performance which had me feeling a little uneasy. I’m not sure if it’s knowing that he died during filming, or if it’s that smiling look you see him give in his last scene. It definitely caught me off-guard and left me a bit perturbed.
Visually the movie is stunning, capturing the tense action and mayhem really well. Francis Lawrence’s direction is second-to-none in this close-knit, almost military-feeling depiction to the first three quarters of the film. It’s the final act that lets it down, but this is largely due to the story winding down to it’s inevitable conclusion.
Thinking about the series as a whole, it’s great. It’s a compelling story that starts with a simple premise, then becomes filled with betrayal, political intrigue and seedy undercurrents of the different character’s agendas. I’d highly recommend watching all the movies in general.
When looking at the last movie singularly, it’s definitely the weakest of the lot. It seems that the box-office takings are in agreement, even though it’s still taken upwards of $100m. I understand it’s about 20-30% less than the last movie, which too, was down by about the same when compared with Catching Fire. There are some lulls in activity in the movie, but the whole second act is thrilling, tense, emotional and an assault on the senses (for you, and Everdeen it seems).
Overall, I’d rate The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, 3.5 out of 5, with the series as a whole, a solid 4 out of 5.