The line “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss” from the The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again comes to mind when watching the fourth and final Hunger Games film Mockingjay – Part 2. That is, of course, when you’re not on the edge of your seat waiting for the next tragedy to occur to the film’s protagonists. Mockingjay – Part Two scarcely gives you time to breath as it transitions between intense action sequences to quiet moments of dread and you’re never quite sure whose going to have a nervous, and possibly violent, breakdown next. It’s terribly unsettling at times, but that’s not a bad thing.
Mockingjay – Part 2 follows directly after the last film and finds Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) reeling from the aftershock of nearly being choked to death by her former friend, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Peeta is the personification of guilt that Katniss feels for all Panem. After all, she has reminded us that she never wanted any of this.There’s a glimmer of hope for Peeta though, while he is restrained in bed he is able to have a nice conversation with Katniss’ sister Primrose (Willow Shields) before devolving into his brainwashed rage manufactured by the Capital. Peeta’s anguish has the opposite effect on Katniss than was intended, she’s now more determined than ever to win the war and see President Snow’s (Donald Sutherland) head on a spike.
Meanwhile the Capital is all but surrounded, barring the final liberation of District 2. Despite this, President Snow and his cabinet appear to be in good spirits after some video footage shows Katniss getting shot. Snow knows better than to assume she’s dead but everyone else seems jolly about it. It never occurred to them that Katniss’ death would only drive the rebels to new fervor for the cause.
The majority of the film follows Katniss, and friends, making their way through District 2 and the Capital itself. Even though the Capital brass know they’re through, they have refused to give up and have had past game makers riddle the city with deadly and outlandish traps called “pods.”
President Coin (Julianne Moore) plans to continue using Katniss as a propaganda tool, but Katniss has other plans. In comparison, both Mockingjay films seems to involve much more intrigue than the previous installments in the series. It’s obvious early on that Coin has little actual regard for Katniss’ well being. Katniss has her own plans and is warned about Coin’s machinations by Boggs (Mahershala Ali). The resulting tension of all these conflicting ambitions really adds depth to the film. I found myself often wondering about implications of the rebellion and asking the same question as Katniss. Is this war worth it? It’s a great feeling when a film makes you ponder morality and philosophy.
Mockingjay – Part 2 is an action flick. After the first few The Hunger Games movies, people were expecting gratuitous excitement and film doesn’t disappoint. As many characters allude to, the attack on the Capital is basically the Hunger Games on massive scale. I was looking forward to seeing how the trap pods would translate to film and they certainly translated well. We get to see Katniss and our heroes dodge flames, bullets, some kind death oil that impales its victims, and white demon-lizardmen. Visually, it was spectacular and almost non-stop.
The tension in Mockingjay – Part 2 is not just from schemes and politics. The few moments that our heroes do get some respite are filled with uncomfortable conversations and realizations. The love triangle formed by Peeta, Katniss, and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) causes some confusion throughout the film. What makes it more confusing is that Peeta has been conditioned to kill Katniss and often can’t control his own actions. But when he’s himself, he’s the selfless man we’ve come to admire. Coin purposely releases Peeta to the front lines to “help” Katniss film propaganda even though she knows full well that he’s unstable. Everyone in the cast does a superb job of illustrating the strain of the situation.
The attack on the Capital ends in victory, but also tragedy. The final bombs dropped before the battle ended were most certainly ordered by Coin, even though the bomber was disguised with the Capital insignia. The conversation between the imprisoned Snow and Katniss is excellently done. We know that Snow’s a liar, but if he still had a hovercraft under his command, you think he would have used it for escape instead of sealing his death sentence by killing his own citizens. We find out quickly what kind of leader Coin is going to be when she proclaims herself interim President for an undisclosed amount of time and proposes that the now free districts hold their own Hunger Games. “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”
Katniss puts an end to Coin’s tyranny before it can start. One thing I didn’t get was why the crowd ran past Katniss and straight to Snow after she just murdered their leader. Regardless, Katniss gets deported back to District 12, finally gets with Peeta, and starts a family. It’s quite a happy ending given the circumstances.
You should see this film? Real or not real? Mockingjay – Part 2 is a satisfying end to the series although it is somewhat ambiguous. We know that Katniss and Peeta have a happy ending, but we’re less sure about the rest of Panem. This installment of the The Hunger Games satisfies with action, drama, and nearly unbearable tension. What’s more, is that it stays very close to the original books penned by Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games series is more than just a great story, it’s a critique on the dangers of a society where few get to live lives of excess while many live in poverty. It tells of the impacts of war and how even the most noble of intentions can quickly turn to acts of evil. Although the fate of Panem is left partially to imagination, all I can do is hope that the people “don’t get fooled again.”