Movie Review: ‘Mockingjay Part 2’
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson
Plot: The rebellion against Panem’s government comes to a head when Katniss – the Mockingjay figurehead of the war – joins the conflict in the nations capital. Although she has her sights set on President Snow, there are other agendas at play.
Review: There’s something irksome about this movie, in that in feels like we’re getting back to a movie that had been interrupted and left sitting by the DVD player for months. The action picks ups immediately after the first Mockingjay ended and it carries on in the same tone delivering the second part of the character’s current arcs. It’s hard to see why they felt this story needed two movies as every scene feels like it drags a little bit two long, shots get inserted without being warranted and conversations get reiterated. Like Harry Potter and the Death Hallows, Twilight Breaking Dawn and The Hobbit this feels like a decision based on economics – in that everyone has to buy two tickets – rather than doing the story justice. Although this is a satisfying conclusion to the series, it could’ve been a bombastic, action-packed show stopper. Instead it feels like we’re filling in time by going through the motions.
With that grumble out of the way, let’s take a look at the film proper. Jennifer Lawrence continues to be one of the best leading ladies in modern cinema, and picking her up for the role when she was a rising star has done the franchise a great service. Her young co-stars Hutchinson and Hemsworth manage to hold their own and between them they deliver the story effectively. They’ve got an amazing line-up of Hollywood veterans and Oscar winners, every one from the recently departed Hoffman to TV stars like Natalie Dormer, so there’s also plenty of talent on display. It’s a real shame that this final chapter introduces a rag-tag team of cannon fodder characters while the more entertaining cast members, like Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci and Jena Malone, are relegated to cameo status.
Without the titular ‘Hunger Games’ set pieces to centre the film we have the war torn and booby trapped capital city to deliver the thrills. When the action kicks up director Lawrence puts together some ready great scenes. A high suspense, big pay off fight against the genetically mutated ‘Mutts’ in the sewers is a real highlight, and feels like the one time the movie is hitting it’s stride. It’s a shame that the story wasn’t condensed down because these sequences are padded out with visits to Furries and repeated conversations about trust and revenge to build an ongoing conflict on, and we only catch glimpses of the wider war taking place around Katniss.
On occasion, adherence to the source material proves to be a genuine hindrance as they’ve brought across some of the more illogical moments of the books. Finnick, the previous games survivor, looks like a right dope running into gun fights carrying his trident. Katniss gets away with her bow because the character is used as a symbol for the revolution, but Finnick doesn’t have that excuse. Then there’s the perplexing plan to keep a handcuffed lunatic with them at all times because he might get better, just watch out because any surprises or violence in this war zone might cause him to flip out and murder them all. Why a soldier didn’t execute him for their own safety is downright frustrating.
Mockingjay Part 2 is a visually impressive movie. The futuristic deco-style city is a more interesting looking setting than the previous films, and the art teams behind the sets, costumes and designs help carry the films stretched story. You won’t get bored looking at the scenario, even when Donald Sutherland is chewing on it.
As noted above, this is ultimately a satisfying conclusion to a popular series. It has emotional resonance and brings up some interesting considerations about justice in a conflicted state. It won’t change the way anything thinks, but it might offer a fresh perspective to the younger audience. If you enjoyed previous films in the series you’ll likely feel the same about this closing chapter. It’s a real shame that the studio didn’t go for a tighter, more exciting and more memorable single film.
Rating: SEVEN out of TEN