The final instalment of a franchise like this is pretty much guaranteed to make bank – if you've sat through the first three films, chances are you'll venture to the cinema one more time to get some closure. But it seems as though the inevitability of making money has made the filmmakers complacent, and this series ends on a bit of a bum note.
For the final chapter of Katniss' (Lawrence) story, we see her and a group of rebels storm the Capitol as she hopes to fulfil her personal mission of assassinating President Snow (Sutherland). Along the way we are treated to some much-needed action as the game-makers behind the Hunger Games tournaments are tasked with protecting the city from the rebels with motion sensor 'pods' that, when activated, aim to annihilate, sometimes torturously, passersby.
In the film the game-makers are hailed as having become more creative, but it's as if the filmmakers lack the actual imagination to come up with enough creative traps to keep things high-octane and edge-of-your-seat for more than a few bursts here and there. The action we do see is, however, excellent, with some parts truly thrilling to watch. But there just aren't enough. I'd hoped we had seen the end of all the talking and strategising in Part 1, but no; there's a whole lot more in Part 2.
Where Mockingjay – Part 1 was slow and flat in terms of action, its script was good enough to keep things ticking along and the performances were excellent. For Part 2, the grand finale, it's as though they tried to rectify the lack of excitement but the script suffered in the process. It's generally pretty safe, simplistic and repetitive.
There are some thought-provoking scenes, however, between Katniss and Gale (Hemsworth). They discuss the difficult decisions that must be made during a war and argue over the methods of retaliation and the value of life. Given the current climate this felt particularly poignant, and it's interesting that a film largely targeted at children and young adults would touch on these themes – and do so effectively.
Jennifer Lawrence gives another great performance as our hero, and Josh Hutcherson as the tormented Peeta is very convincing. The strained relationship between the two makes for very good viewing.
With such a stellar supporting cast, you should be able to depend on seeing some quality acting, but even the great Julianne Moore fails to bring things home – she's somehow become a sort of pantomime version of the character she played in Part 1. Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks don't get near enough screen time in this outing, which is a real shame as the pair of them have always brought some much-needed light relief to proceedings.
Mockingjay had no business being made into two films: the book was the shortest and least enjoyable read of the series and it seems as though opting for two films was the fatal flaw. Instead of making two watchable, sometimes disjointed films with major pacing issues, there could've been one great film in the material they had with the best parts of each adventure combined. Instead, they're arduously drawn out to the point of near boredom.
All that being said, it's an enjoyable enough watch and if you've been with the series from the beginning you should go and see it to finish things off. But speaking as a fan of The Hunger Games, I don't see myself choosing to sit through it again any time soon.