There’s a distinct, commendable linearity to the acclaimed The Hunger Games franchise. Each production works as a standalone endeavour, and yet together they combine to make the perfect four part-series. However the third picture – Mockingjay Part 1 – was underwhelming to say the least, as it felt throughout as though it was merely building up to this final production. But if you were to now watch both parts back to back, it would make for a truly rewarding experience, as this finale is an epic, powerful conclusion that wraps the story up, and does justice to the world created by novelist Suzanne Collins.
Beginning mid-scene, director Francis Lawrence picks up moments after the previous film left off: you never once feel disorientated, as you become immersed in this universe yet again. There’s no time to waste either, as the war of Panem is upon as, with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) leading the army of rebels to the Capitol, and she takes it upon herself to be the one to assassinate President Snow (Donald Sutherland). But not if Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) have anything to do with it, wanting to remove the youngster from any immediate danger or conflict and ensure she is kept alive, to be the face of the rebellion, wanting her to continue shooting propaganda videos rather than join the front line. But alongside her loyal friend Gale (Liams Hemsworth) and the somewhat less trustworthy Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), here is a woman that has a habit of not doing what she’s told.
Though the term ‘Young Adult’ is a rather dirty word in contemporary cinema, having been tarnished by the likes of Twilight, The Mortal Instruments and the Divergent series, The Hunger Games has always elevated above the archetypal franchise, transcending and subverting the tropes of the genre, to make for dark, savage offerings – and this fourth instalment is no different. Unrelenting in its approach, you’ll be perched on the edge of your seat throughout this fast-paced production, while the hairs on the back of your neck may well stay upright for a good long while. It’s desperately intense too, with an indelible sequence down in the underground that adopts tropes of the horror genre.
Lawrence shines in the leading role, and the actress will no doubt be sad to be waving goodbye to such a full-bodied creation, as one of the finest female protagonist’s of a generation. She’s a hero, certainly, but she’s flawed, and she’s impulsive and she makes big decisions with a certain naivety that makes her so endearingly human. Talking of which, we see shades of humanity to Snow too, as for the first time this abhorrent tyrant shows signs of vulnerability to his demeanour. The acting across the board is commendable, with even Hutcherson – usually below-par, turning in his best performance yet – while it’s of course deeply sad to witness the very final on-screen performance for Hoffman.
Though the pacing and structure are impressive, the one big disappointment comes right at the very close of play, with an underwhelming final sequence. Though we may say that we don’t ever want this series to come to an end, it seems that perhaps for the director Lawrence, he took that as being a rather literal statement, not quite knowing exactly when it’s time to call it a day.