The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part II, |
directed by Francis Lawrence
Mockingjay, Part 2 delivers an emotionally satisfying conclusion to a long journey. The characters have fascinating arcs, their final journey is treated with respect, and the action set pieces are brilliant. But it's not an action movie: it's a film about how war brings out the worst in in people, as much as it brings out the best.
While Part 1 was centered on setting up the revolution of the districts against the Capitol, this last installment of the four-film franchise is focused entirely on the fight against President Snow (Donald Sutherland), a mastermind who knows that whoever comes after him will be far, far worse. Intense, gripping and dark in tone from start to finish, with gut-wrenching, emotionally charged scenes and excellent cinematography, Mockingjay, Part 2 shows off every element that made this series so great.
All-out war has finally hit the Capitol as the rebels attempt to bring an end to Snow's reign once and for all. Damaged but still ready for battle, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) leads an assault team whose mission is to assassinate Snow, the creator of the Hunger Games. Tension runs high as she and her team, composed mostly of former victors of the Games, cross hostile terrain that's been booby trapped with highly specialized weapons of war.
Lawrence imbues her role with passion, locking her character down with a keep-it-simple performance that is neither dramatic nor overacted. Katniss is walking a fine line between being a stressed-out zombie and a revenge-focused soldier with a burning desire to uproot the autocratic reign of a dictator who has ruined her life. Julianne Moore as President Coin gives her character a chilly class and finesse where so many other actors would have gone over the top. As the metaphor for the movie's main message about the corruption of absolute power, Moore's nuanced performance -- as the calculating leader who is metabolizing into the very thing Katniss is fighting against -- is highly effective.
The supporting roles are no less brilliant, with Sutherland giving perhaps the performance of his career. Josh Hutcherson is powerful as Peeta, who is trying to knit his mind back together as they work past the Capitol's defenses. Katniss's other love interest, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), having lost his entire District to the Capitol's bombing, is obsessed to the point of being bloodthirsty with getting into the Capitol. Woody Harrelson's Haymitch continues to be the voice of reason through the movie, while Philip Seymour Hoffman as gamesmaster Plutarch Heavensbee is skillfully restrained in his final role.
Withstanding the darkness that seems to be engulfing the entire world is basically the theme of this dystopian picture. Given the sad nature of the story, the sometimes leaden pacing makes it hard for even one little ray of light to shine through. It can be dull in spots but makes up for it by being gritty and realistic.
War is not a game. It is a contest of morals and whoever wins will determine the fate of millions, not simply pieces on a board. Though a bit long and somewhat melodramatic, it's a movie worth seeing, especially with such a huge cast of charismatic actors who really play their roles to the hilt. It almost gives you more than you could ask for but overall, Mockingjay 2 is a nicely done piece of entertainment.
5 March 2016
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