Review: Mockingjay Part. 2
If the first part of The Hunger Games’ two-pronged finale is indeed a quiet, perhaps unnecessary beginning of a drawn out conclusion from a singular source material, then Part 2 is undeniably the frantic finale that brings excitement, emotion, and balance.
For the fourth and final time, the saga of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) comes to the screen, her evolution apparent and her quest now somehow more disturbing and painful than before. Gone is her hesitancy, replaced with decisiveness; but the latter is not necessarily something that saves the day either.
In Mockingjay Part 2, we say goodbye to an influential and uncanny female protagonist, from plucky bystander to reluctant heroine to determined savoir. Her flaws haven’t disappeared, only changed, and consequences have risen. Once only her life was in danger, then her friends in combat, and now her fellow citizens and indeed the masses of Panem. She has two men still interested in her, but she can compartmentalize, neither in need of a male around nor in protest of it; though the lack of charm from both actors (Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth) wouldn’t really have any woman running, rebel leader or not. For now though, Katniss wisely remains focused on that which is indeed far more important.
That’s taking down a tyrannical and oppressive government and its leader Snow (Donald Sutherland); the real subjugating male, who has orchestrated the killings of both unknown masses and specific sympathetic characters. Picking up moments after the last film left off, Katniss and her crew plans an attack on the Capitol, and things get rolling. Part 2 creates a final ‘games’ out of the entire deserted city, an urban landscape littered with a variety of deadly traps that methodically whittles down the numbers of a rather large squad. Katniss is joined by her suitors in Peeta and Gale, her colleague Finnick (Sam Claflin) her video team, and a bunch of new, relatively unknown soldiers who are easily dispensable.
Teeming with frenetic action and tense moments, the group eventually takes to the sewers where one of the most thrilling sequences in the entirety of the franchise takes place. A whirlwind of intimate horror and violence erupts as their assault takes a defensive posture the closer they get to their goal.
Part 2 though doesn’t solely rely on action. Directed by Francis Lawrence for the third time, this finale welcomes its younger audience into adulthood with chilling displays of careless brutality and thirst for power, with Katniss the guide. Her past mentors takes to the sidelines, with passing acknowledgements of their roles (Jeffrey Wright, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, and the late Seymour Hoffman have fleeting moments), and Katniss, no longer dolled up as a pawn for either side of the fight, moves doggedly onward.
The camera never leaves her determined, savvy side, moving towards a potent finale, which is dramatically powerful twofold. Indeed, a conclusion comes to the war of Panem, and not without a high body count. But perhaps more bittersweet is the cinematic sendoff of Katniss, a unique young woman on screen who has broken free of stereotype, a flawed heroine who can kiss and punch, who can fall in and out of love, who can lie and laugh.
She is one who has demonstrated to countless onlookers that she knows how to play the game and win it. More importantly though, she has shown that all young women have the power to set the rules.