“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” opens with a close up of Jennifer Lawrence’s badly bruised throat which, as fans know, is due to her fellow Games competitor/love interest Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) attempting to kill her because he’s been brainwashed/tortured by President Snow’s (Donald Sutherland) minions after being captured in Part I. At first, she can barely croak out her name, but in the next scene, she’s able to argue with the Resistance’s leader (Julianne Moore) about Capitol defeating tactics and how the revolution of the ragtag army gathered in the District 13 bunker where she is should be spun (since it’s televised). This is typical of the movie’s approach to injuries: they look severe but don’t appear to leave much lasting damage. Jennifer herself gets burned, beaten, shot at, attacked by slime goblins, and pursued by waves of primordial slime, but in general, her hair stays clean and her complexion remains flawless. Still that doesn’t matter much because her character, Katniss Everdeen, is truly a kick-ass heroine.
All the gang who survived the first three movies are back, including Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Jeffrey Wright and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the younger crew of Willow Shields, Jena Malone, Liam Hemsworth (as rival love interest, Gale) and Sam Claflin, among others. Stanley Tucci also appears briefly as a former Hunger Games TV host, who has been appropriated by Donald’s allies and now regards Jennifer as a traitor. By now, Jennifer is having moral qualms about the nature of waging war, although as she points out, the pre-war world, in which teens competed to the death for the amusement of spectators, wasn’t ruled by sanity either. Although Julianne wants her to stay out of harm’s way and be a safely intact symbol (the Mockingjay of the title), Jennifer eventually decides to get back into the thick of battle – and ultimately kill Donald who she sees as the cause of it all. With his grandfatherly mien and fondness for white roses (which symbolize a heart without love), Donald is still hunkered down in his Capitol mansion, still making cryptic remarks, playing down his fading health, and eagerly watching to see what move Jennifer makes next. Again as fans already know, Julianne’s character has mixed motives, which are going to cause personal heartbreak for Jennifer, even as she moves toward achieving their goal of a democratic Panem.
The script follows the book’s plot closely and is popular enough that it doesn’t need too many more explanatory details. In the end, Jennifer is at peace, as is Panem, although as a character points out, they’re in that brief period post-war where everyone is still making good decisions and homo sapiens’ gift for self-destruction isn’t as powerful. Perhaps, he speculates, post-death, that they will learn from their past, or otherwise be doomed to repeat the same mistakes. The cast unsurprisingly does a great job all around, making you hope that these characters will choose the former. In an early “Mockingjay” scene, Woody recommends that Jennifer consider experimenting with warmth and sensitivity when she makes a speech. This the movie makers have done, as well, making this a standout end to a great series.