Film: Mockingjay Part 2 – A neat, if somewhat flat, conclusion

Mockingjay Part 2, the final instalment of the immensely popular Hunger Games series, sees – as I’m sure you know by now –all thirteen districts of Panem join forces in rebellion against the Capitol and President Snow, led, to some degree, by the bold and brave face of heroine Katniss Everdeen. It combines everything that we have seen in the last three films – physical and psychological drama abound – with a far broodier undertone, and while die-hard fans will likely go home pleased, a more reserved audience may well feel under-served.

Unsurprisingly, it’s full of spectacular action: a particularly striking scene sees Katniss and the elite rebels battling a gnarly mob of terrifying creatures called mutts in the sewers under the Capitol; elsewhere, explosions and gunshots abound as the battle takes to the streets.

The action is backed up by some neat character work, too, and director Francis Lawrence (no relation to Jennifer) toys with our feelings towards the rebellion’s main characters, creating a tense, shifting undercurrent that leaves the audience feeling constantly on edge. Peeta’s return of course forms a large part of this, but it extends to the other characters, too, and under his direction – and Jennifer Lawrence’s now-expected, assured acting – even Katniss keeps us forever second-guessing her next move.

At just over two hours, the film inevitably loses some of its pace during the second half. The return of Finnick and Haymitch are welcome but rather limited in their impact as they are kept at a very safe distance from Jennifer Lawrence’s limelight. The cast’s performances are consistent and believable, especially Josh Hutchinson’s Peeta, who remains in a confused stupor for a great deal of the film. Of course, the loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman weighs heavy over all (Mockingjay Part 2 is his final screen role), and while his gamemaker Plutarch is perhaps somewhat more absent than would be expected in other, less tragic circumstances, the cast and crew manage to convincingly send his character off and tie up the plot in a neat bow, other characters stepping up to fill in his role as Katniss’ mentor and friend.

It’s one of many neat, well-aimed conclusions that will send fans home happy with a respectable finish to what was a ground-breaking franchise in the young adult genre. If you’re not a huge fan of the series, though, don’t rush to see it, as many of its charms will be lost – although it will still make for dramatic enough viewing.

Natasha Lyons

Image: Murray Close/AP

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