The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (3 stars)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Long and fairly lacklustre end to the YA franchise that occasionally catches fire

The fourth and final Hunger Games film is upon us, and it really does feel like the end. At a generous 137-minutes, Mockingjay – Part 2 tries to squeeze all it can out of the second half of Suzanne Collins’ concluding novel, set in the dystopian, divided world of Panem. Rather like earlier attempts to milk a final book for all it's worth (see also Harry Potter, Twilight), the result lacks real momentum – bar a couple of stand-out scenes in the hotspot that is the Capitol.

Directed again by Francis Lawrence, in his usual brisk, workmanlike manner, Part 2 begins with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) bruised and croaky after surviving a strangling from her now-brainwashed romantic interest Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). With a brewing rebellion led by Julianne Moore’s Alma Coin, as the 'Mockingjay' figurehead, Katniss is considered crucial in the fight to unite the disparate districts against Donald Sutherland’s scheming President Snow.

Defying Coin’s orders to stay out of the action, Katniss plots to kill Snow, heading to the Capitol with a team that includes Sam Claflin’s Finnick and Natalie Dormer’s Cressida. Here the plot and pace pick up, as they find the city booby-trapped. A tidal wave of deadly oil and an underground tunnel full of mutants – in a scene reminiscent of Ripley fighting off the creatures in Aliens – are both brilliantly realised, hinting at Collins’ devious imagination.

But with the film featuring the last screen appearance by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, as Coin’s associate Plutarch, you’re left wishing his swansong was rather more dynamic. Yes Hunger Games regulars, including Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and the charisma-free Liam Hemsworth – as Katniss’ old District 12 friend Gale – all return. But the narrative plods in the final third, the twists are obvious and even Lawrence feels like she’s outgrown this role. All in all it feels functional rather than fantastic.

General release from Thu 19 Nov.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

  • 3 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 2h 16min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Francis Lawrence
  • Written by: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
  • Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
  • UK release: 19 November 2015

In the final part of the saga, as the plot and pace pick up, Katniss (Lawrence) plots to kill Snow (Sutherland) and heads to the capital with a team of rebels. Bar a couple of stand-out scenes, it plods a bit and Lawrence feels like she's outgrown the role. Functional rather than fantastic.