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‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2’ Takes a Long Road to a Strong End

The movie does get to some really powerful points, but it must suffer through long stretches of meaningless plot.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 picks up where the last movie view left off. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has survived the attack from Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), who is now under protective custody of The Underground . The rebellion is just about ready to take the capital, and with the help of Katniss and her value as a propaganda tool, they're closer than they've ever been to victory. But Katniss is starting to suspect that the people she's working for aren't any better than the villain that she's dedicated herself to fighting.

The movie largely concerns Katniss trying to go off on her own on a mission to assassinate President Snow (Donald Sutherland). She is stuck with the propaganda unit, staying well behind the front lines dealing with the various traps littered around the capital. Because even in the middle of outright war, Snow's modus operandi as a villain is to subject people to games. This is where the story suffers an identity crisis. It is reaching for themes much bigger than what the games initially represented. The full impact of the war is never felt as the film turns it into just another set of illogical trials that the characters must overcome.

The movie does get to some really powerful points, but it must suffer through long stretches of meaningless plot. And it doesn't really make much sense. The capital takes a weirdly indirect approach to killing off its attackers. Rather than face the threat with their superior technology, they subject to another twisted version of the games, the rebels faced with traps that are limited in their lethality. It starts to feel contrived after a while, these supposedly deadly traps either stopping prematurely or directly contributing to the continued survival of the heroine. It's clumsy stuff, and it mainly feels like busywork until the story can get to the real meat of the matter.

This would likely have been more bearable if this wasn't already the second part of the story. Splitting this climactic chapter into two movies just stretches out the parts that don't really matter. To its credit, the movie is never less than professionally done. The action sequences are always coherent, and at times thrilling in their execution. Director Francis Lawrence shoots conflict with long, sustained takes that fully capture the breadth of the action. Though these sequences don’t matter much in the long run, they work pretty well in isolation.

The film gets a lot more interesting in its final stretches. The story reveals a very different game. It still feels a tad contrived, as it relies entirely on a sinister threat that isn't quite sinister enough, but it still hits on sophisticated ideas about society in the wake of conflict. Through it all, strong performances carry the movie. Jennifer Lawrence is just really strong in the lead role. She gives the character a sense of purpose through the rougher portions of the plot. She more than holds her own against the more venerable members of this cast.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 does provide a pretty satisfying ending when all is said and done. It has the character facing genuinely complex dilemmas that involve dangers beyond men with guns and strange death traps. It just takes so long to get there. This is already the second half of this chapter, and it still feels like there are long chunks of it that don't really matter. This is a solid movie all in all, but taken as part of a larger whole, it just feels unnecessarily long and meandering.

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Movie Info

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2
Adventure, Science Fiction
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