The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Dir: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Willow Shields, and Elizabeth Banks
4.00 out of 5.00
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
MONTE YAZZIE ~ THE FOOTHILLS FOCUS~ 11/25/2015
War has been depicted in many ways throughout film history, but what all the best portrayals have in common are an emphasis on displaying the acts of war with unflinching focus on the frailty of human life and the courage of those willing to fight for what they believe in. “The Hunger Games” films have grown over time, starting off with an introductory film that was barely good enough to warrant a return to the sequel “Catching Fire”, which started to find focus on how to handle the deeper narrative implications being presented. The fact that the final film “Mockingjay” did the common franchise finale ploy of splitting the film into two parts was annoying, offering a needless “Mockingjay Part 1” that felt like an overlong setup that could have been better summarized into one film. However, “Mockingjay Part 2” displays the power of a good ending, pulling together all of the best narrative themes of the franchise to display the dark nature of war and how it effects everything that endures it.
The film begins right off with rebellion figurehead Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) being treated by medical officials after surviving an attack by brainwashed Hunger Games champion Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). Katniss is conflicted, torn between taking vengeance and promoting peace while also being manipulated by politicians who are playing their own self-satisfying angles. Katniss chooses to take action, journeying on a deadly mission to assassinate President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and bring peace to the districts once and for all.
While the dystopian future war portrayed in the first three films may often undercut itself with plot developments, in “Mockingjay Part 2” war is front and center, quick and deadly, heartless and devastating. There is no time for goodbyes, no prolonged slow motion eye gazing; it’s a flash of an explosion and the silence of life amidst carnage. It’s strange to compliment this technique, but this structural method has a devastating poignancy for the world being portrayed but also accomplishes a feeling of uncertainty for the familiar characters that have been otherwise safe so far. No one is safe in war, and that is reflected here.
The narrative suggests a world in turmoil with rebel forces from allying districts moving into attack position at the Capitol. However, not much of this is seen because the attention seldom leaves Katniss and her mission. This unfortunately overlooks some potentially influencing narrative devices. Still, the story is well conceived in its narrowed focus, one that takes a far more adult turn than one might assume from a young adult novel. Katniss is a soldier torn between doing what is right and what is necessary, a decision that is often marred by manipulative forces that are motivated by the kind of senseless and reckless self-serving mentality that has replayed itself throughout history. At one point in the film, an idea is proposed by a political figure that is jaw-droppingly ludicrous yet a truthful and all-too-common sentiment that reflects how history often repeats itself in the most dangerous ways.
Jennifer Lawrence has grown comfortable in the leading role, portraying Katniss with exceptional moments of confidence and uncertainty. The two leading men vying for Katniss’ heart are Liam Hemsworth as loyal friend and soldier Gale and Josh Hutcherson as the tortured and lethally influenced Peeta. Both actors offer their best performances here, Hutcherson especially contributing a portrayal that can simply be described as conflicted. But in the end it’s Jennifer Lawrence who holds the entire film, and franchise, together.
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” is an exciting, and surprisingly thought-provoking, sprint to the finish line, a film that displays a dystopian world that still reflects many of the social anxieties and unreasoned prejudices that affect our world currently. While some of the interesting themes get lost along the journey, “The Hunger Games” series, especially in the finale, will be fondly remembered for crafting one of cinema’s most empowered, confident, and complicated female heroes. In the current state of female portrayals, this aspect may be as powerful an accomplishment as winning The Hunger Games itself.