The USP of Susanna Collins’ YA franchise has always been – duh – the actual games. Outside the arena, the books are mostly awful, something the films, though expertly made, have to constantly overcome. Mockingjay – Part One, also directed by Francis Lawrence, took place entirely in war-torn Panem, and suffered accordingly, though its dying-fall ending was oddly beautiful.
This final entry should, in theory, be all climax as we follow Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and the rebels to the Capitol, where they must take down eeeevil President Snow (Donald Sutherland). In fact, it takes an age to get going, but once the dashing Finnick (Sam Claflin) declares, ironically, “Let the 76th hunger games begin!” for the next hour or so, it’s game on.
In lieu of an actual arena, Katniss and co must cross a booby-trapped cityscape, a canny decision that leads to some of the series’ greatest action sequences – the terrific tunnel fight, in particular, wouldn’t be out of place in an Aliens film. J-Law remains world class, even as the interminable love triangle between Katniss, shell-shocked Peeta (Josh Hutchison) and brooding plank Gale (Liam Hemsworth) limps to a conclusion. The rest of the cast get short shrift, especially Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who died during filming, and is clumsily written in.
It’s just a shame they couldn’t have written out some of the endless, slightly cringey speeches, or pulled the plug before a dreadful Harry Potter-like coda. It’s no fault of the Lawrences (no relation), but Part Two is one hour of excitement mixed with another of mush: a problem that goes right back to the source.
‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ Movie Times
In case you missed ’em: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1