It’s all-out war in Panem with all 13 districts joining forces for the first time under the leadership of President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) to take on the upper-class and President Snow himself. Katniss has been a valuable tool for the rebellion as the perfect model of strength and determination, but now that the fighting and killing is going to increase on a monumental level Coin has her ordered to stay out of the hot zones and basically sit the invasion out. Coin believes Katniss is more valuable in front of the camera filming rebellion propaganda.
Having no intention of being sidelined, Katniss sneaks aboard a cargo ship headed to the front lines. Once there, she makes up the lie to her squad that she is on special assignment to sneak into the Capitol and assassinate President Snow. Things become a little more complicated and dangerous for Katniss when Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) shows up and is added to her unit the day before they are supposed to head into the hot zone. It seems the young man who used to love Katniss and would gladly sacrifice his life to save her has been programmed by Snow (think Manchurian Candidate) to not believe anything she says and to kill her if possible. Teamed up with Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Finnick, a handcuffed Peeta, and the rest of her small unit, Katniss begins her journey into the war-torn hot zone headed for the Capitol to hopefully kill Snow and bring about an end to the war and a new beginning for Panem.
Uneven and sluggish, The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay – Part 2 brings the dystopian saga of Katniss and Peeta to a close with more of a whimper than an explosive bang. For what’s supposed to be an action-packed fighting finale, there are far too many scenes of hiding, sleeping, contemplating, and of course more inner-revelations. Didn’t the characters do enough of that in Part 1?!
Jennifer Lawrence is solid as Katniss who now, being the experienced war-torn soldier and survivor of not one but two Hunger Games, is more cold and calculating than ever. Gone is the young and terrified woman putting herself in harm’s way to protect her kid sister. She’s been replaced with an almost stone-cold assassin who lives for the day she can look President Snow in the eyes and kill him. It’s an interesting arc the character goes through in the films and Lawrence brings it genuinely to the screen.
Josh Hutcherson is still the heart and soul of the franchise as Peeta, the young man who has also survived two Hunger Games and has suffered unspeakable torture and brainwashing but still holds on to his humanity and his love for Katniss. In truth, the best parts of these films has always been the chemistry between Lawrence and Hutcherson as Katniss and Peeta and their working together to survive while falling for each other. This, unfortunately, is missing for a good portion of the film as it was with Part 1 because the characters are apart or aren’t working together due to Peeta being a threat because of the brainwashing. This only detracts from their scenes together and sadly makes what used to be the soul of the films feel more like a boring afterthought.
The action scenes in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 are fairly unimpressive and there are less of them than one would think with this being the final film about overthrowing President Snow and his government. The pacing of the film is extremely uneven with quick chase or fighting scenes followed by quiet hiding and waiting scenes that almost always lead to more inner turmoil and discussion about the turmoil…Zzzzzzzzzzzz.
Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks as Katniss’ mentor Haymitch and stylist Effie, two characters who have always been on her side, are basically sidelined for most of the film and have only a few quiet scenes that unfortunately don’t give either actor any real time to shine as they have in the earlier films.
With awful pacing, unimpressive action scenes, and an underwhelming outcome, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 brings the blockbuster franchise to a lackluster end.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material.
Running Time: 137 minutes
Directed By: Francis Lawrence
Release Date: November 20, 2015