Katniss and her fellow freedom fighters take the war to the Capitol.
Francis Lawrence, 2015
After the brainwashed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) tried to kill her, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) gains a new determination to take out President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Tired of being the Mockingjay, the face of the rebellion without getting a chance to fight for the country’s freedom, she formulates a plan to kill Snow. While she’s relatively safe in District 13, her movements are heavily restricted by President Coin (Julianne Moore). Finally, Katniss makes her way to the war front in the Capitol. However, she finds a series of obstacles in her way; not only are Snow and his gamemakers trying to kill the rebels with a series of elaborate, deadly traps, but Coin has some tricks up her sleeve as well. Katniss must outmanoeuvre them both if she wants to keep her friends and family alive and free Panem.
Picking up immediately where Mockingjay – Part 1 left off, this adaptation of the second half of Suzanne Collins’ final book in the Hunger Games series is a satisfactory ending to the saga. The book itself is an overstuffed, disappointing mess, but the filmmakers continue to exceed expectations in their ability to create solid films. They’re assisted by a top-notch cast, who bring even the most minor side characters to life in the most wonderful ways. Elizabeth Banks has been a revelation as Effie Trinket throughout the series, and there’s a lot of solid support work here; from a one-scene appearance from Gwendoline Christie as a freedom fighter and Natalie Dormer and Elden Henson as the film crew from the Capitol, to Julianne Moore’s chilly Coin and Donald Sutherland’s master manipulator Snow, to Sam Claflin’s gorgeous Finnick and Jena Malone’s feisty Johanna. They’re all supporting the always brilliant Jennifer Lawrence, who brings Katniss’s severe trauma to blistering life on the screen, and the frankly astonishing Josh Hutcherson, whose broken, angry Peeta is such a contrast to the gentle, kind man Katniss loves. Liam Hemsworth is still mediocre as Gale, who is a mediocre character, but at least the film gives Katniss closure on his storyline in a way the book did not.
There’s a lot to cover in Mockingjay, but the second film does clock in a little long at over two hours. I stand by my assertion that, of all the cash-grabbing film splits, Mockingjay benefits the most from having more time to tell its story. It’s a dense book, both thematically and in terms of action, and the film gives the characters time to breathe and have important moments that build relationships. There are still some disappointing moments in the storytelling, with some threads that aren’t fully resolved. The film solves some of these problems by showing scenes that aren’t from Katniss’s point of view. There’s a strange quality to the storytelling in the book, as though major moments are skipped, and the film follows in that tradition. The interesting themes of responsibility, revolution, and agency are followed through in satisfactory ways. Ultimately, though, the power of these characters and the careful attention to detail on display overcomes these weaknesses in the story.