Mockingjay – Part 2 didn’t seem likely to be the best part of Katniss Everdeen’s story. First off, it was based on the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy, considered the weakest by a lot of readers. And that book was split into two movies, which could easily be interpreted as a cynical cash-grab rather than something artistically motivated. But this ends up working out surprisingly well. There is room for characters to breathe and the end game is nicely straightforward yet more nuanced than you would expect.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has been a reluctant symbol of the resistance for so long now, that it comes as a major relief that she actually takes initiative here. She is proactive, rather than reactive and that makes it easier to root for her. Her major talent for a while mostly seemed to be that she could ad-lib inspiring speeches at the drop of a hat, but here she lets loose with her bow as well. Admittedly, the plan she formulates maybe isn’t the best and at times she and her band of rebels seem a bit naive. If one is being hunted down, would one not try to properly disuigse oneself? Just putting a hood over your head and hoping security gets distracted at exactly the right moment really isn’t much of a plan.
Snow (Donald Sutherland) is deliciousy Evil here, even fullfilling the time-honored tradition of killing a minion in front of his other henchmen to keep them in line. The story shows that he must have an insane amount of manpower and money at his disposal, as he sprinkles ridiculously elaborate death traps all around a city. I missed how he is making his money back on this or why he is going through the trouble of being spectacular rather than efficient at killing. I guess it is being televised, but it seems strange to focus on showmanship while Snow’s backers feel they’re in mortal danger.
Thematically it fits though, as the film is very much about propaganda, with both sides of the war manipulating the masses. Julianne Moore’s character President Alma Coin (The other side of the same ‘coin’ by any chance? See what they did there?) is as morally malleable as Snow is. There is no clear black and white here, only grey area and a lot of innocents dying. The downbeat – but not too downbeat – ending seems appropriate, much more interesting than an unnuanced happy ending would have been.
In the final scenes of the movie, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s absence is felt. He died before filming was completed and was digitally added in the background of some scenes while being written out of others. There is closure to his arc, but it’s not hard to spot the gap between what they originally intended to do and what they were able to do.
I guess if you have seen the rest of the Hunger Games movies, you will be seeing this one, and if you haven’t, you won’t be starting here. But as a pay-off to the other movies, this one doesn’t disappoint. Even if I still have no clue what was up with that cat-lady or with the underground monsters, who suddenly and just temporarily turned the flick into a pseudo-sequel to Aliens. Goodbye Katniss, it’s been swell watching you.