There's not a big time gap between Mockingjay Part 1 and Mockingjay Part 2. In fact, there's barely even a gap. We begin in District 13, President Coin (Julianne Moore) preparing to invade the capitol. Katniss is growing tired of shooting propaganda videos, wanting to actually go out to the front lines and follow through with the many promises they've been making recently. Not only that, but she wants to take down President Snow (Donald Sutherland) once and for all, although that is not a simple task. With the help of Finnick (Sam Clafin), Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta, who has recently been brainwashed into wanting to kill Katniss, she makes her way to Snow, armed and dangerous. But Snow is prepared for her. Traps have been set up. Traps that were intended to be used in various hunger games. Traps designed to kill.
Because of this, the first fifteen or so minutes felt a little rocky. The film failed to absorb me right away. Once it did, however, the film is rather entertaining. It doesn't manage to top the first two movies, but it does top the first Mockingjay, that's for sure. I expected this though. The Mockingjay book, and I mentioned this in my review of the first film, is not that good. It's a tedious read that felt incredibly rushed. Since the world is a cruel place, of course the most rushed of the Hunger Games books gets made into two movies. Thankfully, the screenwriters and the director managed to put together something dark, haunting and exciting. The two part film manages to out-shine the mediocre book in almost every way.
Without delving into spoilers, there's a sequence towards the middle of the film that's one of the greatest scenes in this entire franchise. It starts out in a dark underground location, the characters hearing noises as they attempt to escape without making a sound. It had my heart pounding and my fists clenched. It's a nail biting scene that's followed up by the most shocking, unsettling and original action set piece in the whole film. It's been a while since I read the book and so I couldn't remember it in detail, but boy was this sequence good. Forgetting the book added to the thrills.
Speaking of Peeta, when we last caught up with him, he was tied to a bed, pushing violently against his restraints. With Mockingjay Part 2, the violent maniac we were teased with never comes to light. There are certainly some moments where he has bursts of anger, and for the entire runtime he's certainly an unpredictable character, but his mayhem is never followed through with. He's always on the verge of causing a lot of pain to the people he loves, but hardly anything ever comes of it. I was hoping the movie would deviate from the books slightly, but no. Peeta's torture, brainwash and rescue hardly played a significant role in this film. He's just good ole Peeta.
That being said and done, what I did like about this film was the wrap up to Katniss' arc. It is, after all, her story. It's told from her point of view. Jennifer Lawrence is as brilliant as ever and her character feels as though she's significantly changed in comparison to the start of the first movie. You can feel her development, and her story wraps up nicely. She's working alongside some great talent, including the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, whose absence in this film is unavoidably felt, and the always sensational Julianne Moore, yet she still manages to steal most of the scenes she's in. This is her franchise. She owns it. And I love it.