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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay 2 review: a grim and fitting end

Aleesha Matharu | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:48 IST

If you made it this far into the Hunger Games series (or read the books by Suzanne Collins), there's no chance in hell that you'd not see the concluding installment, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2. Regardless of what any review says.

But for what it's worth, Part 2 is a fiery finish for the franchise - though a drawn-out one that could have done with some trimming.

Get up to speed

The grand finale, directed by Francis Lawrence, picks up immediately from the first Mockingjay.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), trying to mend herself from a near-fatal attack - by her one time ally and (sometimes) love, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) no less, is still reeling form the after affects of President Snow's (Donald Sutherland) brainwashing.

Katniss realises soon enough that she's become a pawn yet again, this time under the grip of rebel leader Alma Coin (Julianne Moore).

So, against orders, Katniss decides to mount a suicidal, rogue strike on President Snow while the Capitol is under attack.

But he's anticipated this, of course.

As the resistance approaches, Snow evacuates the city and lays a series of traps. This converts the Capitol itself into one final, bloody arena (Finnick Odair put it well: "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 76th Hunger Games."). The whole setup is complete with cameras ready to broadcast every struggle on live TV.

A forgettable Part 1

It's a financially-practical tactic, of course, to create two films out of a single book.

Perhaps that's why the first Mockingjay film was too slow - playing up the political intrigue to make up for the "arena-less" book of the series - and making it completely hollow.

Part 2 is everything Part 1 was missing

Mockingjay could have gone the Lords of the Rings: Return of the King route and boldly made a single three-hour movie if Francis Lawrence and his team had reigned in unnecessary bloating.

But that end. It's horrific. The script collapses. Ending after ending is piled up. It's all a little superfluous.

Love found, love lost

The love triangle between Katniss, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta has never been very compelling on film (or in the books).

Part 2 even includes a supremely cringy scene in which, holed up in a safe house, the two men share a quiet bro moment while an eavesdropping Katniss pretends she's asleep.

The weakest link

It's Hutcherson who actually has the most visible and emotional character arc. As beleaguered Peeta, Hutcherson comes across as a (believably) downtrodden hound dog.

But it's Gale that's the biggest problem. His character has been bland and lifeless since the start.

"What's going on in your head?" Gale asks her, early on in the film; she replies, "I don't know," and the problem, throughout the series, is that Suzanne Collins and the filmmakers never figured it out either.

True, Hemsworth is pretty and all that but perhaps the Twilight series is where he really belonged, not the gritty world of Panem.

A walking corpse at times, but still a great performance

It's a grim movie through and through.

And it's not just the terrifying sequence in the sewers - it's also the fact that Katniss spends a good one-third of the time walking around in all but a PTSD coma.

Collins' young adult novels rely heavily on Katniss' inner monologue as she fights for survival. Given the wise lack of voiceover, Lawrence has to communicate a ridiculous amount of inner conflict silently.

That's a lot of pressure.

Lawrence is up to the task, though; she's brilliant in portraying a complete disillusionment with war.

The missing playmaker

Let's talk about Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Although most of his scenes were shot before his death, there's a bit of noticeable digital trickery, and a letter from Plutarch read out to Katniss by her mentor Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) that is just painful to get through.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

First published: 27 November 2015, 11:08 IST
 
Aleesha Matharu @almatharu

Born in Bihar, raised in Delhi and schooled in Dehradun, Aleesha writes on a range of subjects and worked at The Indian Express before joining Catch as a sub-editor. When not at work you can find her glued to the TV, trying to clear a backlog of shows, or reading her Kindle. Raised on a diet of rock 'n' roll, she's hit occasionally by wanderlust. After an eight-year stint at Welham Girls' School, Delhi University turned out to be an exercise in youthful rebellion before she finally trudged her way to J-school and got the best all-round student award. Now she takes each day as it comes, but isn't an eternal optimist.

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