The Hunger Games has, for the most part, been one of the most consistently solid and entertaining series in recent memory. It has given us real, pained characters in a world that questions its morality in deciding when a death means something. The Games themselves will always be the highpoint, but with the final book in the series—split into two parts—the movies struggled to maintain a consistent tone and pace primarily because they don’t culminate to what made the first two films so great. Now that the series is done, it is easy to see that Mockingjay Part 2 bids its characters and world a fond farewell, but it doesn’t always hit its mark.
The series itself owes most of its success to its leading stars—particularly Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, who infuses each film with a painful heart and a heavy soul. Katniss, by this point in the series, has been the reason for countless deaths, whether or not the blame should be fully placed on her. They weigh her down, and Lawrence always delivers an authentic and damaged performance. Lawrence’s talent as an actress shines forth and ushers us through the final film with emotion and determination—but to us she will always be that girl who volunteered as tribute for her sister.
As the final push towards the Capitol is taking place, I was surprised to find that the attention of the film is solely focused on the group infiltrating the Capitol. Comprised of Katniss, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Finnick (Sam Claflin) and the mixture of soldiers and propaganda makers, the group suffers ups and downs, emotional and violent traumas, but they remain the only focus the entire time, the rest of the world is largely forgotten. While this proves to not be much of an issue since the Hunger Games has always prided itself in casting some truly talented actors who out-act just about everyone else in other Young Adult adaptations, it leaves one wondering why we don’t get a glimpse of the rest of the rebellion.
Just like the battles being left out, the other players in the game are as well, save for the first and third act. When they appear, they do their job well, especially Julianne Moore as President Alma Coin and Donald Sutherland as President Snow. Sadly, Phillip Seymour Hoffman passed away during filming, and his bitter goodbye is sweetened by the fact that he was such a gifted actor in everything he did–he will really be missed.
The film’s structure might have the biggest impact on the overall product since the majority of it is just a long second act, For almost half the movie we experience un-exciting moments, a lot of exposition, and a lot of traveling. No big revelations are made, but in one exceptionally done sequence, we are reminded of just how great the action has been in the series.
As far as endings go, Mockingjay Part 2 remains honest to the book and won’t leave you wondering or annoyed. It honors the book, though perhaps it does so far too well as some elements just don’t translate as well to screen as one would want. Nevertheless, Lawrence, the wondrous supporting cast, and some great moments mostly make up for a slow first half to not only the two-parter, but also the final movie. Is this as powerful an ending as the series promised? Certainly not, but we won’t be forgetting it anytime soon.