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No easy closure for ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise

Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the capstone of The Hunger Games series has arrived to give us the dark, bleak and oddly satisfying ending we may not want but do deserve. Mockingjay – Part 2 has continued the regrettable trend of splitting franchise finale films into two, ostensibly to give space for the whole story, but in reality to milk as much money from audiences. While Part 1 seemed to end abruptly and frustratingly, Part 2 works well as a single film. It brings us the end of the revolution that was sparked in the first film when Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) inspired the oppressed people of Panem by winning the nation’s annual battle royale known as The Hunger Games without killing her partner Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). A number of things happened between then and Part 2, but the key plot points to know are that Katniss is the star of the propaganda campaign of the revolution being run by the cynical Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), and Katniss is torn between her love for childhood best friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) and for Peeta, who had been kidnapped and brainwashed to hate Katniss by the evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

The previous film had ended with Katniss and Gale, among others, rescuing Peeta. Katniss is mortified by Peeta’s state and disturbed by Gale’s transformation into a soldier willing to kill some in order to save more, a moral position not unlike that of Coin and her propaganda master Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died while filming the movie). Coin and Heavensbee want Katniss, also known as the Mockingjay, to remain far from the war’s front lines and star in propaganda films. But Katniss wants to kill Snow, so she sneaks off to the front, where she is quickly noticed. Coin teams her up with the most famous of the rebellion’s warriors, including Gale, Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), Boggs (Mahershala Ali), Jackson (Michelle Forbes) and Heavensbee’s film crew, led by Cressida (Natalie Dormer).

Katniss is irritated to discover that this unit is to follow behind the main forces and be filmed only acting out the roles of soldiers. She and Gale make a pact to break away from the group and assassinate Snow. But then Peeta is dropped into the unit barely in control of his emotions, and booby traps set up by the game makers who designed The Hunger Games wreak havoc on the group. One horrifying event after another follows, directed with efficiency by director Francis Lawrence, and the ending of the film is perhaps more disturbing than any of the other deeply disturbing plot points of the previous three films. Lawrence’s fierce charisma and her character’s deep morality anchor the movie, helped by Hutcherson’s fraught fragility and Sutherland’s magnificent despotism.

I must give credit to the producers of The Hunger Games for not removing the trenchant social commentary from the story, though by marketing the franchise as action and adventure with a bonus love triangle, they baited the PG-13 audiences and switched them rather sadistically. But considering our culture’s carelessness involving war, penchant for believing official lies and easy attraction to populism, we deserve the kind of ending Mockingjay provides. Because for most of us, no matter how often we’re told justice and good will prevail, the odds are never in our favor.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Written by Peter Craig and Danny Strong

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth

Rated PG-13

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Posted by on Nov 25, 2015. Filed under Entertainment News, Movie Review, Section 4A. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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