The revolution has ended. The flaming arrows have been put down (most of them forcefully into the torsos of peacekeepers) and the Capitol rebels have returned to their astonishingly impractical wardrobes. What will we watch now that this popular series of youth death matches, uprisings, sabotage, and acceptable marriage at 17 has ended? Game of Thrones is still months away!
Mockingjay Part 2 closes the Hunger Games extended trilogy with a fizzle, a bang, and an “oooh snap”. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) swaps her trademark braid for a messy ponytail – a telltale signal that it’s totally business time. While Mockingjay Part 1 follows a shell-shocked Katniss who’s presented to the masses like a sacrificial cuttlefish, Mockingjay Part 2 sends our heroine off on her own to hunt down the tyrannical President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Now it’s Katniss who’s calling the shots – albeit through a wispy veil of secrets and lies. The meat of this movie takes place right in the Capitol where Katniss, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), and a few of our rebel favourites try to navigate a sadistically well-stocked minefield in order to reach the heavily guarded President. Mockingjay Part 2 is a healthy dose of chaos and psychological torment for the whole family.
…Whereby “whole family” means families with children over 13. While the violence isn’t particularly bloody, it is twisted and, in some places, flat out scary. Katniss and her squad are shot at, pummeled, burned, drowned, spiked, vaporized, and gnawed at throughout the course of their journey to the city centre. On top of all that, Katniss has to deal with the return of her TV love interest, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). After a few weeks in the Capitol, Peeta’s adoration of Katniss has morphed into a conviction that she is not only public enemy number one, but that she isn’t even human. Between all the anger, choke holds, and guilty stares from backseat driver Gale, Peeta’s furious loathing makes Katniss realize that she really does have feelings for him after all. Talk about your opposites attract. While he’s mostly in control when the squad is resting, Peeta’s mental breakdowns are still a fact of life and usually cause a scene during the most inconvenient moments. His episodes add an extra emotional/ psychological layer to Mockingjay Part 2’s already exciting action sequences.
Between the deadly booby traps and the drama of a concluding chapter, you’d think Mockingjay Part 2 has it all. You can definitely tell the producers were super psyched about filming certain chapters of Suzanne Collins’ novel. So excited, in fact, that they barely held back the budget when the moment finally came for – get ready – eyeless zombies. Whatever the subject matter, no movie is truly complete without eyeless zombies. These mutts are capital ‘C’ Creepy, and the anticipation that builds towards their final reveal is just as spine-tingling. I knew the scene was coming but, even with enough preparation time, my slotted fingers did little to protect me from these sewer cannibals.
The most wonderful thing about Mockingjay Part 2 is Katniss finally taking ownership of
her strength. Enough with the hospital beds; go get it, girl. She has the goal, the mission, and the cyanide capsule to end it all. Plan it, do it, done. The only thing that slows Katniss’ quest is the presence of Peeta and all his baggage. Not a single person on her squad gets a wink of sleep since every Peeta-Katniss “We need to talk” conversation has to take place during midnight watch. After nights without sleep and days evading traps and eyeless zombies, the team literally drags Peeta through the city while he begs to be left behind. Forget dodging deadly obstacles and running from enemy soldiers, the mission’s real challenge is coming up with a damn good reason not to leave him behind. Peeta makes delicious cakes… Peeta makes delicious cakes… Peeta seriously owes me the mother of all delicious cakes…
Mockingjay Part 2 is everything I could ask for in a closing chapter. There’s balance between action, fear, and emotional guilt, and the characters are never really safe, even when they appear to be. Lawrence and Hutcherson’s acting expresses the kind of drama that leads to years of therapy, while the crumbling sets are as perfect as President Coin’s (Julianne Moore) colour contacts are distracting. Mockingjay Part 2 is a keeper, an 8.5/10, and a successful close to this excellent series.