By Thomas Simpson
When The Hunger Games burst into cinema in 2012 it was dismissed by the harshest critics as Battle Royale for the Twilight generation. While the comparisons to Kinji Fukasaku’s last film were valid, this wasn’t a watered down dystopia for the tween generation, instead this was a series that would evolve into a nightmarish vision of a world with themes that were only too relatable.
As is the norm these days for adaptations of a successful book series, the final chapter had been split into two with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 providing the long awaited conclusion to the struggles of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her war against the tyrannical President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
The previous installment ended on a shocking cliff-hanger surely to leave audiences not familiar with the source material astonished. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), best friend and potential lover to Katniss, has been brainwashed by the capitol to murder her and squash the rebellion. Tormented by her emotions, Katniss finds herself struggling to break free from being used as puppet by both sides as she embarks on her quest to kill Snow and end this fight for good.
The series perhaps doesn’t get enough credit for its dark undertones and cynical outlook. The final installment peels back any layers of hope and presents a hellish landscape where combat is second place to propaganda. Whereas lives are lost on the battlefield, it is the images that are beamed into homes that will decide the outcome of this turmoil. It all sounds awfully familiar and poignant.
Peter Craig and Danny Strong aren’t shy or subtle with the metaphors in the script, amplifying the existing themes from Suzanne Collins’ novel. The audience isn’t treated like idiots, this is a clever and thought provoking story that doesn’t pull any punches.
Whereas Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows benefited from being told in two parts, Mockingjay – Part 2 suffers the same issues as Part 1 as events are stretched out to fulfill a running time. The action is spectacular with director Francis Lawrence refusing to shield the younger cinema goers from the true horrors of war in this cruel future. Despite the important subject matter the film drags more often than not as our heroes sit around conversing with little being said. The love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), although important to the series as a whole, never feels significant as the outcome seems inevitable.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 can boast of a brilliant cast and they don’t disappoint. Although the love triangle didn’t do it for me, the chemistry between Lawrence, Hutcherson and Hemsworth is evident in their performances if not the script. Sutherland is a brilliant villain with Julianne Moore’s President Coin showing that there is little difference between those in charge on both sides of the divide.
The film is flawed by a monetary decision to split it into two however there is enough suspense and drama on offer to keep fans happy. The third act might appear anti-climactic at first but there’s a few twists left towards the end to pull it back and justify one of the more important plot points happening off screen. It may be bleak and grim but it’s a fitting ending to a story that has more in common with The Running Man than it does Twilight. It could’ve done without the last scene but it won’t be enough to ruin a satisfactory albeit bitter sweet conclusion.
Thomas Simpson is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy 41.