Four years in the making, the phenomenally successful YA franchise The Hunger Games comes to a climax.
Following immediately on from the last shot of Part 1, we find Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in a neck brace struggling to talk, having been choked almost to death by Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson)
He’s drugged up and in custody of the Rebels headed by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who deem it necessary to test his condition by sending in someone he trusts.
As Katniss watches on her sister Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields) approaches Peeta who is strapped to his bed, heavily sedated.
Once he recognizes Prim he asks if she has been sent o kill him by Katniss. He then starts frothing and screaming that Katniss is a monster and must die.
These scenes are shot in extreme close up and bring you immediately into the intensity of the final part of the saga – can the rebels storm the Capitol and take out President Snow once and for all, ending his tyrannical reign?
Katniss meanwhile makes a recovery from her bruises and insists on getting back in the fight.
Oh look – it’s Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) as one of the Rebel soldiers outlining options for an all out assault on a weapons stockpile inside a fortress within a Capitol held district.
Katniss watches on as different plans are debated, struggling to comprehend the scale of victims her allies are proposing.
She soon reached the conclusion that “there are no rules about what one human can do to another human” sowing the seeds that maybe Snow wasn’t all bad to contain the bloodshed in his comparatively orderly Hunger Games.
Alongside Brienne of Tarth, Remy Danton from House of Cards (Mahersali Ali), suddenly appears as Boggs, a squad leader who suggests the fortress is a den of wolves and should be either buried or smoked out.
Katniss fulfills her role as a reluctant mouthpiece for the uprising, as events unfold that allow her to surmise that there’s not much difference between Snow and Coin when it comes to ruling the nation of Panem.
She survives an attack on her life, banking yet more propaganda value for the Mockingjay before defying orders to stay behind the front line in relative safety and finds herself back in the arms of Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth)
Gale sticks by Katniss’ side keeping a watchful eye on naughty Peeta who arrives out of nowhere as the couple hatch a plan to separate from the pack on their own renegade mission to seek and destroy President Snow in his luxury compound.
Never to be outdone by the developments of his enemies, Snow cooks up a new series of deathtraps and pitfalls that seem certain to kill anybody foolish enough to infiltrate the Capitol.
As Finnick Odair (Sam Clafin) wryly puts it “Welcome to the 76th Hunger Games).
There’s plenty of action as the Rebels make their way toward Snow for the final showdown, and the whole affair is highly reminiscent of Star Wars that I suspect George Luca’s lawyers will be watching with eagle eyes.
Snow is the aesthetic antithesis of Darth Vader with his penchant for all white accouterments, but his role as a powerful father figure is the same, as Katniss – Princess Leah and Luke Skywalker all rolled into one, is torn on her feelings toward him.
Extraordinary CGI sequences and intense intimate drama from these well-defined characters make the majority of this installment hugely enjoyable.
Jennifer Lawrence has done extremely well to allow this role to become a launchpad as opposed to a millstone for her career, and she is exquisite to watch, as are all your favourite characters from the series.
There may be endless debate about the merits (or lack of) splitting the third book into two films, but what’s done is done, and it’s safe to say the series concludes with a surprise, if fitting end.