It was Peter Travers, of Rolling Stone, who said last year that The Hunger Games franchise, of all of its competitors, does dystopia right. For one last climactic film, the same holds true. There’s a preview for The Divergent Series: Allegiant, and then the final chapter of The Hunger Games begins and buries its primary competitor deep beneath the rubble of Panem.
Mockingjay Part 2 is without question the most explosive, heart-pounding feature in the series, although possibly director Francis Lawrence’s third-best Hunger Games (hard to compete with Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1). With Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and the other tributes out of captivity and safely recovering in 13’s underground fortress (the result of Part 1), President Coin is preparing to mobilize troops to storm the Capital. Katniss’ role, as far as Coin (who, it turns out, is threatened by Ms. Everdeen) is concerned, is over. She inspired the cavalry, that’s enough … but it doesn’t sit well with Katniss. So begins her expedition to carry out the assassination of the icy President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
It’s about here that I forgot to breath for the next two hours.
Francis Lawrence brings this civil war to life on an epic scale with the biggest, most cinematic action sequences of the series. The setting for many of the film’s most tense and breathtaking scenes is a vast, impressive underground sewer system that Katniss & Co. use like a shortcut (also a narrative fast track) from Point A to Z to avoid the impossible number of trap pods laid like mines above ground.
But as much build-up as we get for the ultimate climax — the ending unknown to me not having read the books — it’s a slow burn to the end. After one last blast, we’re told it’s over, but there’s still politicking to be done, conclusions to make and a love triangle to settle. It gets there, creating some moments that make you want to cheer, while showing us there was at least some indecision, in the making of the film, regarding how to end this absolutely wonderful, forever memorable series — most begrudgingly the novel’s forward, which was included but may have been better suited post-credits rather than immediately attached to a final scene that ultimately settled Mockingjay Part 2 nicely.
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2”: ★★★