It is but fitting that this very grown-up film concludes this young adult franchise — taking a very hard, unvarnished look at war, the meaning of democracy, the consequences of a regime change, and the unglamorous task of nation-building.
There are other narratives here, as President Snow (Sutherland) whips up fears about “those who don’t know our ways”, in order to guard his Capitol against “outsiders”. Walls are raised, children segregated from mothers as war creeps up.
Writer Suzanne Collins features in the credits again for helping adapt her books to the screen, and director Lawrence faithfully follows her vision in placing the tortured and torn Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) as the moral centre of this dystopia. Other women too play a crucial role in each of the turns the film takes, whether as Katniss’s friends, family, rivals or enemy.
While Part 2 of what ended exactly a year ago also begins with its take on modern warfare being about who grabs the most eyeballs, it thankfully moves on confidently into real battle this time. The arena – again a parallel drawn between life outside the hunger games and within – is the bombed Capitol itself. The film depicts it well, both the bombed overground and the bleak underworld.
Katniss decides she has had enough of being told what to do by Coin (Moore), who sees herself as the leader of the rebels, and decides that the only way out is for her to kill Snow. So disregarding direct orders, she secretes out to join Gale (Hemsworth) and the others on a mission into Capitol. Peeta (Hutcherson), who was tortured and brainwashed by the Capitol in the previous film so much so that he can’t tell truth from reality anymore, soon joins them. We suspect Coin thinks it makes a better story for screen if the two former lovers are kept together, even as potential rivals now.
The film follows Katniss’s company of seven or so as they gradually make their way to Snow’s mansion, criss-crossing through the unknown bomb traps he has set for them. Snow sees this as just another extension of the hunger games, with the spectacle even grander as he takes out the rebels on camera in the real world.
Mockingjay – Part 2 works again because Lawrence, who has grown as much as Katniss through the course of this series, brings forth the right mix of vulnerability and steel required of her. It’s a rare achievement on screen for a heroine to be so consistently a person than a woman, making no concessions to her so-called feminine self.
It’s also rare for a film to deny itself the exhilaration of a win after this hard-fought, four-part, big-franchise battle. However, the other Lawrence too resists.