Everybody’s favourite dystopian gameshow is back – but enough about The Apprentice, here’s the final Hunger Games movie.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is too long, both as a title and a film. The financially determined decision to split Suzanne Collins’ final instalment into two films leaves this closing chapter with a lot of padding, as Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) sets out to destroy the Capitol by assassinating President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
Hollywood postergirl Lawrence is still on form as rebel postergirl Katnip – so called because boys are irrationally attracted to her. And because there’s a scene where she shouts at a cat. Not so much a reluctant hero as a totally apathetic one, she’s finally put aside childish love triangles (mostly) and seeks to end the war on her own terms.
Meanwhile, Sutherland makes a deliciously strong villain, posing a real threat to Kit-Kat and her friends. This makes for a decidedly bleak movie, with a design worthy of the title Mockingrey. The tagline is “Nothing can prepare you for the end”, but The Texas Chain Saw Massacre‘s feels more appropriate: “Who will survive and what will be left of them?”
There are also impressive performances from Jena Malone, Woody Harrelson and Philip Seymour Hoffman in his last ever movie (again). Unfortunately, it’s difficult to warm to Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), even when he’s not trying to kill our hero. As portrayed in these films, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) really seems like the more natural choice. Go Team Gale.
On an emotional level, it doesn’t connect as strongly as it might. This might be a matter of being outside the target audience and never having read the books. Rather like the Harry Potter films, it feels as though these movies are dipping in and out of a story we’re expected to know already. There’s even another stupid Hollywood epilogue.
But this franchise has always had the edge in terms of its maturity, and Mockingjay – Part 2 presents a more realistic version of war than most “grown-up” films. It displays a healthy mistrust of political authority, with Katona unable to trust even the rebel leader President Coin (Julianne Moore, dressed as Teresa May).
The film’s best moment comes when it turns into The Descent, in a sequence that’s brilliantly terrifying for a 12A. If only there was more of this, less exposition and fewer plotholes. But for fans, this is a solid conclusion to The Hunger Games – a franchise that’s gone from being simply “Battle Royale with cheese” to a fully formed, intelligent work that puts the “adult” into “young adult.”