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Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

December 2, 2015

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

Mockingjay - Part 2 PosterThe fourth and final chapter in the blockbuster series, adapted from the bestselling trilogy of impressively staged young adult novels, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 sadly closes this dystopic cinematic franchise with more of a whimper than a bang.

Although this is a serviceable last act that mostly ties up the loose ends of the story, there is an air of been there done that hanging over the entire production that sours things considerably, especially when compared to the genuinely great first instalment that started this series with such promise back in 2012.

With the districts being targeted by the oppressive government of Panem, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is in the final stages of political revolution, and being used as a propaganda symbol by the allied forces, in increasingly militaristic attempts to overthrow the balance of power.  The young archer is determined to infiltrate the Capitol and assassinate the dictatorial leader, President Snow (Donald Sutherland), but the city has been rigged with hidden explosives and a multitude of booby traps intended to stop her army dead in their tracks, affectively kicking off the 76th Hunger Games.

The film does work in fits and starts, and there are some intense moments of action, including a weirdly compelling sequence in the sewers that comes pretty much out of nowhere and evokes something straight out of a horror movie.  Katniss Everdeen still makes for a compelling hero, capably portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, and backed up by an impressive cast.  The story also lends itself well to discussions of the refreshingly sharp sociopolitical themes, which have have only grown more timely over the years.  But this just isn’t enough to save The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 from feeling like a disappointing finale to a franchise that came tantalizingly close to being one of the greatest series of all time.

There was really no reason to split the final book into two parts, a marketing choice that makes the story feel overlong and needlessly drawn out.  The film is just never as engaging as it could or should have been, and there is so much padding around the integral parts, that the actual meaning threatens to be drowned out.  There are too many scenes trying to milk any last bits of tension from the underdeveloped love triangle involving childhood friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and the still brainwashed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), including exchanges of self-serious dialogue that grind things to a screeching halt.  The final scene is saccharine in a way that the rest of the series avoided being.

And I’m not saying this as a cynic, but as a fan.  This final chapter simply failed to capture my attention in the same way as the books and first three movies, all of which I genuinely enjoyed.  Where the earlier films felt fresh and exciting, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 ends up feeling derivative of the countless films that have tried to copy the initial success of the series.  This is a series that should have been great until the end, instead of just petering out in this agreeable but by no means groundbreaking fashion.  It’s not a bad film, just a disappointing one that I really wish had been better.

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