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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

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Starring Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth.

This fourth film in the franchise is a stunningly insightful portrait of Katniss Everdeen both regarding the myth and the woman. What’s breathtaking about this series finale is how it doesn’t just deprive the fans of some of what might have been expected. It utterly rubs our noses in our expectations and our desires. More than just a simple story of a heroic young woman uniting the masses against a tyrannical government, The Hunger Games is as a whole a blistering deconstruction of the “Chosen One” myth both in popular culture and it current events. Mockingjay part 2 picks up immediately after the last one, with Peeta having been tortured and brainwashed into a rage-filled killing machine, and with Katniss finally deciding that she should be the one to kill Snow and end his reign once and for all. The majority of the film tracks Katniss and a handful of regular characters as they follow just behind the rest of the invading forces, for the sake of media-friendly propaganda videos. There are no illusions about a clean war being fought by either side, with would-be heroic leading man Gale (Liam Hemsworth) taking little issue with committing what would clearly be war crimes and even the would-be rebel leader President Coin (Julianne Moore) isn’t immune from suspicion, as Katniss starts to realize that there may be more propaganda value in her valiant death on the battlefield than in her triumphant victory. All of this leads to a series of action sequences and close calls, including some horrifying violence and casualties. The film reaches its climax, with a wouldbe direct assault on the Capital, pretty early into the third act, which means the film’s finale is actually about dealing with the aftermath rather than a conventional final battle between two hated enemies. And through it all the film offers a sense of cynical dread and outright pessimism, with one bombed out population centre after another reminding you that this isn’t some no harm, no foul superhero movie. The film ends in an uncommonly satisfying fashion, especially because it gives the audience what it needs rather than what it wants. Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic once again and Woody Harrelson again adds an invaluable touch of resignation, while Josh Hutcherson offers the most fascinating character arc of the franchise. Not only is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 2 a thrilling and heartbreaking series finale, but it also retroactively improves every prior instalment by offering a new contextual window in which to view them.

Rated MA 9 OUT OF 10