THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2
*** (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Francis Lawrence
STARS Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson
Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 (Photo: Lionsgate)
Picking up where Part 1 left off, we find Katniss dealing with a Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson, simply not up to the rigorous demands the role now requires) who has been programmed to kill her, a President Snow (Donald Sutherland, deliciously evil) who's determined to crush her and the rebellion she leads, and a President Coin (Julianne Moore) whose end game grows more suspicious by the minute. Meanwhile, her puppy dog of a part-time lover, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), continues to hang around seeking scraps of affection, while the saga's most interesting supporting players — Woody Harrelson's Haymitch, Elizabeth Banks' Effie and Jane Malone's Johanna among them — are lucky to be given a scene here, a line there.
Aside from some outlandish moments toward the end, such as when the creatures from The Descent unexpectedly show up, the picture benefits from its relentless bleakness, as decent people die unexpectedly, personal traumas continue to haunt many of the characters, and Katniss learns that when it comes to government, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. The Hunger Games franchise is often dismissed for its Young Adult designation, but as far as the films are concerned (I haven't read the books), they often showcase a maturity and sobriety that put many Old Adult efforts to shame.