The Hunger Games finale arrives with aplomb, showcasing its two main strengths, innovative deaths and political commentary, all wrapped around a teen romance. For those who haven’t kept up to date with the films (or books), Mockingjay – Part 2 centres around Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), who has unwittingly become the face of the rebellion against a dystopian government led by President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Katniss becomes a propaganda tool as much as a soldier, featuring in short promotional films to elicit compassion from the masses and encourage them to rise against the Capitol.
The film makes no attempt to explain the events of the previous films, trusting that you haven’t missed any of the installments so far. It picks up straight from the ending of the last film, with Katniss under attack from her brainwashed ally Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). The rebels’ president Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) has stepped up her attacks on the Capitol while also keeping a suspicious eye on Katniss, who has no intention of sitting by the sidelines and eagerly wants revenge on Snow for Peeta’s torture. Unfortunately Snow has set traps for her and the rebels as they infiltrate the Capitol, where her friend Finnick (Sam Claflin) quips, “Welcome to the 76th Hunger Games.”
President Coin is joined by her aide Plutarch, played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who hadn’t completed his scenes by the time he passed away. The film does a respectful job of writing him out that doesn’t feel forced and should please fans.
Director Francis Lawrence brings his familiar steady hand to the film, having already directed the previous two movies. The action is shot from great angles, but he knows when to pull in close for the quieter moments too. It’s a great pleasure to see Jennifer Lawrence do what she does best, and the rest of the cast also give it their all. Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth (Gale) are great as Katniss’s love rivals, especially when they share a brief scene together that acknowledges the clichéd love triangle.
As Katniss and her band of rebels make their way through the Capitol, we‘re treated to a surprisigly violent series of innovative and over-the-top deaths. Explosions, incineration, drowning and being eaten alive are all explored to such a degree you feel like you’ve stumbled into a horror movie, forming a stark contrast with the previous movie’s focus on propaganda and media manipulation (which plays only a minor role this time round). This final film comes nail-bitingly close to killing off more characters than a Game of Thrones finale, though book fans may feel that the film focuses on fragility in war, with some fan-service thrown in.
The Hunger Games has been a fun ride, with brilliant highs and lows, so it’s satisfying to see the series end on such a high note. We’ve seen Katniss go through battles, post-traumatic stress, anger, love. She’s been used as a hero, villain and revolutionary by all sides, but her goal has always been to save her friends and family. So prepare for the end of The Hunger Games. And may the odds of getting a seat be ever in your favour.
Words by Sunny Ramgolam