Much like the “Harry Potter” series, the final installment of “The Hunger Games” departs radically from the formula of all entries that came prior. “Mockingjay – Part 2” does not actually feature the Hunger Games themselves, the main event that involves children killing children to placate the masses of a dystopian future. Without this intense action set piece to which the story can build, everything else cannot help but feel like a bit of a letdown.
“Mockingjay,” for many fans of the series, represented the least of Suzanne Collins’ books. So, in a sense, it is not terribly surprising that “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” ends on a similarly underwhelming note. But even that is unlikely to put a damper on what will surely be one of the highest grossing films of the year; the four-year relationship Jennifer Lawrence built between viewers and her Katniss Everdeen is truly remarkable.
Without the games, “Mockingjay – Part 2” seems rather confused as to what kind of movie it wants to be. Some aspects of political semantic games and propaganda messaging remain from Part 1, primarily at the outset. These leftovers just further serve to reinforce the sense that a two-part finale was an unnecessary protraction of events.
There’s also a political revolution brewing with Katniss moving ever closer to killing the tyrannical President Snow (Donald Sutherland) while also becoming disillusioned with the increasingly anti-democratic tactics of rebel uprising leader Coin (Julianne Moore). These portions prove the most interesting as Katniss heavily debates the ethics of taking a life even in the name of a good cause. After ending so many in the Hunger Games arena, she has become more sensitive, not desensitized.
And, because let’s not forget that “The Hunger Games” series is a YA series at its core, “Mockingjay – Part 2” also devotes copious amounts of time to Katniss’ love triangle brewing between the brainwashed Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and the steady Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth). The sexual tension flares up between battle and action sequences, perhaps trying to keep a steady escalating momentum. Yet the movie feels rather clunky, never quite settling into a groove like the first film or “Catching Fire” did so effortlessly.
The hodgepodge of tones, moods and storylines provides a fulfilling wrap to the series as it ties up all the loose threads. But it never quite excites and entertains as a movie in its own right. B /