Mockingjay, Part 2 begins mid-scene, moments after the previous endeavour came to an end. It’s a testament to a triumphant franchise that even with a year’s gap and no additional viewings in that period, you can be instantly transported back to this dystopian universe without feeling disoriented or perplexed. For we dive head first into the war of Panem, as Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) seeks in leading the army of rebels to the Capitol, with the sole intention of assassinating President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
Alongside her loyal associate Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and the returning, volatile Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) amongst others, the collective strive to approach Snow’s mansion, to overthrow the current government and give the power back to the people. But Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are insistent that Katniss remains a voice for the rebellion, and intend to maintain her safety by removing her from the action and continuing to shoot propaganda videos. What they hadn’t accounted for, however, is just how challenging it can be to give this young woman orders, and then see her stick to them.
Francis Lawrence, just as his predecessor Gary Ross managed, presents such breathtaking cinema, where the hairs on the back of your neck are giving quite the standing ovation. Perching on the edge of your seat has become almost customary throughout these pictures, and Mockingjay, Part 2 thrives in such a capacity, as it’s unrelenting in its approach, feverishly intense from the offset. At times Lawrence even absorbs and adopts tropes of the horror genre, and yet never loses sight of the deep, socio-political undercurrent that carries this series, adding a real sense of pertinency to proceedings. Though while Snow is the tyrannical oppressor and abhorrent antagonist of the piece, he is equipped, for the first time, with an intriguing, and developing sense of vulnerability, reminding us that he too, though hard to believe, is a human being.
There’s a remarkable sense of linearity which brings these features together as one, as various actions from the previous films now have their implications, and comeuppances within this title, while even the more distracted of viewers can keep on top of this narrative. Another consistency are the performances of Jennifer Lawrence, who is once again so nuanced and absorbing. It’s a role that shaped and marked the beginning of her illustrious career, and one she feels so evidently entwined with. As one of the great female leads of her generation, Katniss is a character so easy to root for, she acts out of a very relatable sense of naivety, she’s impulsive, she’s flawed – but ultimately makes the decisions we would, except just with a touch more courage and conviction than we could muster. Meanwhile Hutcherson is also commendable, in his strongest outing yet (faint praise, in some regards) – while of course it’s moving, and yet rewarding to see Hoffman on the big screen once more, and for the very final time.
Well paced and structured impressively, the main shortcomings to this endeavour come in the very final stages, as it seems Lawrence is unsure as to when it’s time to close the curtains, but it’s a small blemish on an otherwise worthy conclusion to this franchise. While Mockingjay, Part 1 grew tedious in parts, feeling throughout as though it was merely building towards something – if this is what it was building up to, it just proves that it really was all worth it.