Excitement over the final Hunger Games film seems to have dwindled compared to the first. Mockingjay Part 2, the fourth film to come out of the book trilogy – that’s one more movie than book – comes three years after the first one hit theatres. The one that helped make Jennifer Lawrence one of the biggest names in Hollywood and helped show, in much the same way her character Katniss Everdeen does, her extremely likeable idgaf personality. Now that we have Jennifer, we don’t have as much a need for Katniss.
Of course, dystopian young-adult stories hadn’t quite reached the level of saturation they are at now, and while the Hunger Games arguably remains the best of the crop, after four films, it has grown tired. And with one of the more exciting aspects of those films being the soundtrack lineups, this film has none, giving it that much less in the way of hype opportunity for the final chapter of the now-drawn-out series.
So when the film finally hit the big screen, it’s almost out of obligation that it must be seen, which is a shame because each of the last three films were focused on the next, in some ways distractingly, all leading up to this one, arguably the most thrilling and with the most at stake. It’s the final showdown. Katniss Everdeen and her fight for freedom of Panam, and District 13 President Coin (played by the commanding but non-threatening Julianne Moore) and President Snow (played by the deviously gentle Donald Sutherland).
Getting there isn’t easy, and that is made evidently clear as the bulk of Part 2 is about getting to Snow at his mansion in the Capitol. Where Part 1 was notably low on action high on dialogue, this one takes the opposite approach, going for that big finish. Once the “Star Squad” ascends on their mission, for propaganda purposes, they are faced with one obstacle after another.
The downside is that, with more time dedicated to upping the action, key characters are left with minimal screen time. Had Katniss and Prim’s (Willow Shields) relationship been emphasized more, for example, it would have come back in spades later on in the film. Instead, we have to rely on whatever happened in Part 1 to carry us through to the end of this one, while some of the more colourful characters of the series are limited to just seconds of screen time and, if they’re lucky, a line or two.
Mockingjay Part 2 is a constant reminder of how unnecessary splitting the finale was. Both parts have strengths and weaknesses, and much of that might have been evened out as a single film. Even though still underwhelming, the best moments of Part 2 come in the final third when it matters most. Everything that came before was just for show.