The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2

Posted by Joel Copling on November 20, 2015

The revolution that has been brewing over the course of three (or four, depending on how one does the math) films, chronicling one young woman's retaliation against a totalitarian regime that forces its teenagers and children to do battle as a response to a second civil war in the Americas, finally occurs near the end of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2." As seems to be this series' fashion however, the moment of revolution (the film's most important moment, basically) is a quiet one, which seems to prove that this saga was never about bombast. That might be why the film's predecessor did such a unique job of building a sense of political turmoil within this universe. Here, then, is the payoff.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), the rebel in question who entered the 74th Hunger Games as a tribute for her sister Primrose (Willow Shields) and barely survived the Quarter Quell a year later, and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the unassuming bakers' son who harbored unspoken affection for Katniss before being forced into a deadly competition against her, are now completely different people than the ones they were in 2012's inaugural installment of a series of adaptations of Suzanne Collins's novels (Peter Craig and Danny Strong are the screenwriters here, with Collins receiving an "adaptation" credit). As we pick up almost precisely where we left off in part one, she is still the symbol of this rebellion (sharing the name with the fictional bird of the subtitle, which is a hummingbird with the parrot-like tendency of mimicking musical notes) and he is recovering from a stint in the dreaded Capitol as a parrot of a different kind (more specifically, a tool of the regime).

They are now inhabitants of District 13, the long-thought-abolished region in Panem. Its president, Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), and her second-in-command, Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final performance), are still spearheading a smear campaign using propaganda commericals (called "propos") to encourage the rest of the districts to join in their rebellion. Taking on the Capitol directly by force is, perhaps, not a realistic solution to the problem, so they plan to infiltrate District 2 with the tactical help of Katniss, Peeta, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), and a flurry of other warriors.

Their opposition is President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland), he of the name with loaded connotations, whose acts of brutality seem to know no end (One act in particular here is one against a group of children, and that's only one part of the attack, which results in a tragic personal loss for our heroine--one of a few here). He's employed Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci via television screens), the Games' commentator, as a sort of propaganda tool (Deaths of rebels are announced with the flourish of those within the previous games), and the faceless Peacemakers are more brutal than ever. But it's all headed toward a conclusion as inevitable as it is unforeseen.

Which is to say that the film concludes with a series of twists that are hit and miss with their success (a smaller one forces us to reconsider one character's motivation, which may not be one-note villainy, while another, more significant one doesn't really make sense, considering how reliant it is on chance occurrences happening exactly in the concerned character's favor). Set pieces abound, such as a thrilling escape from being pinned down by Peacemakers and a wall of black, quick-drying oil, and the way director Francis Lawrence builds tension in a tunnel-set stint in which the heroes face lizard-like monsters and a minor revelation is superb. "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2" falters when trying to reach the credits roll--the last scene in particular is heavy-handed--but this is a finale both thunderous and thoughtful.

Film Information

Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Donald Sutherland (President Coriolanus Snow), Julianne Moore (President Alma Coin), Mahershala Ali (Boggs), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee), Sam Claflin (Finnick Odair), Woody Harrelson (Haymitch Abernathy), Natalie Dormer (Cressida), Elden Henson (Pollux), Wes Chatham (Castor), Evan Ross (Messalla), Jena Malone (Johanna Mason), Michelle Forbes (Lt. Jackson), Willow Shields (Primrose Everdeen), Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket), Patina Miller (Cmdr. Paylor), Jeffrey Wright (Beetee), Paula Malcomson (Katniss's Mother), Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman).

Directed by Francis Lawrence and written by Peter Craig and Danny Strong, based on the novel "Mockingjay" by Suzanne Collins.

Rated PG-13 (intense violence/action, thematic material).

137 minutes.

Released on November 20, 2015.