Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland
Hunger Games’ heroine Katniss Everdeen – an equal part mix of Jennifer Lawrence’s magnetic presence and the character’s inherent humanity – has transcended the franchise. As this dystopian Young Adult franchise splutters and gasps before reaching the finishing line, Jennifer Lawrence and her character stand tall as beacons, telling us that however bad this film may be, we still have Katniss.
As the war with the Capitol and its stylishly tyrannical President Snow (Donald Sutherland) rages, Katniss’ own people start forgetting what they are fighting for. With victory in sight, humanity is cast aside. In such a scenario, Katniss’ role as the franchise’s emotional and moral heart is even more pronounced, and Lawrence delivers. She is vulnerable and determined at the same time, coming into her own as she leaves behind the icon’s role District 13’s President Coin (Julianne Moore) is trying to force on her. She may be a heroine to Panem’s rebels but she is flesh-and-blood, never buying into the hoopla of being the Mockingjay.
But take her away and what are we left with? An uneven film so boring, it may put you to sleep. One would have thought that after splitting the last book into two (a la Harry Potter), the second part would begin with an action extravaganza. No such luck though. The film begins tamely with a lot of speeches and discussions, camera hanging on to the character’s faces for a breath too long. Angered by how Snow has destroyed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss has only one aim in life – to kill the President and he should be able to see her eyes when she strikes the final blow. However, Coin is having none of it. She wants Katniss to be the face of her rebellion but it will be the army of the districts who will do the real work.
Katniss goes rogue and lands at Ground Zero, only to be assigned to a showpiece contingent who will shoot propaganda pieces in areas of Capitol that rebel forces have already secured. Katniss soon realises that war is unforgiving – civilian casualties mount and Snow is not the only one who has given humanity a go by. Katniss and her team’s amateur attempts at war soon unravel and they find themselves as unwilling participants in yet another Hunger Games, designed by Snow’s gamekeepers.
Not just the film’s story, even the way it is shot is grim and claustrophobic. The film has been shot underground extensively and is dimly lit throughout, which doesn’t help either. The ploy of introducing yet another hunger games is ungainly and immature. It is hard to take a war seriously when it starts looking like a video game.
Katniss’ love triangle with Peeta and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) has been given a high-handed treatment. It seems that the director tried to replace emotions in the scenes with dialogues. At one point, Peeta and Gale actually sit down and discuss who got more emotional kisses from Katniss!
The film also has a series of postscripts -- the moment you think it’s over, it throws you another afterthought. And regarding the conclusion, a heroine with Katniss’ arc needs a better send-off than the one climax offers her.
What keeps the film together is its caustic take on global issues such as hunger for power, media manipulation and power vacuum. It teaches Katniss and its key audience a very important lesson – victory brings its own horrors.
One only wishes, its entertainment value was on that level too.