Mockingjay, Part II is definitively the end of Suzanne Collins widely popular YA series of heroine Katniss Everdeen. This final segment of the franchise is the ending we needed but not necessarily the one we wanted. Much like Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, it demanded and deserved multiple closures for the larger multi-movie arc, yet did it more concisely.
The vast majority of the film is based on resolving the damage and wounds to our principals in Mockingjay, Part I. And that is so very thoroughly done, that I found myself slightly unhappy. Like the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises, our titular hero[ine] is so wounded the desire to fight on and wage war against evil has been squelched. Our heroine does not just jump back up, declare something brave, and run back into the fray.
Katniss has seen Peeta, the kindest person she has ever known become a dangerous zombie-boy; so brain-washed [“hijacked”] by Capitol scientists using tracker-jacker venom, he questions everything. “I remember throwing you bread once. Real or not real?” he asks Katniss, trying to gain some handle on reality. “Real.” she replies.
That arc of them repairing their relationship is one of the things that allows you hope for a good ending. Spoiler alert is that they deserve it and get it – after a fashion.
And when I say “after a fashion”, I mean it is more of a survivor’s consolation prize. Readers of the book series will know exactly what I mean. They too will be satisfied that the promised ending of major characters is done well, and Suzanne Collins intent and message of her series is carried out faithfully.
That itself is the successful problem of this franchise. Collins has inadvertently conquered Hollywood who made an artistic contract to remain faithful to the book series. It is too recent, too fresh and went to production too quickly to seriously alter its intent. The fear of alienating the fans was too great.
So, like Watchmen, we get such a faithful adaptation that it may stun the less-prepared moviegoers. Collins gets the pyrrhic victory she wrote in her heroine: cast as a lover by a corrupt media, confined and controlled by those who need her and finally set free by learning that revolutions need warriors as much as they need leaders.
But it is the kindest and most humane who pay the greatest price. War does not discriminate. War does not care. War is hell.
“Do you want a war, Ms. Everdeen?”
“Neither do I.”
– President Snow to Katniss Everdeen in Mockingjay Pt. I
In this film, we see Jennifer Lawrence show us in no uncertain terms the price Katniss Everdeen pays to serve others on a battlefield, in the media, in a council, in a hospital. She must live after dying inside several deaths.
It is this performance by Lawrence that makes Mockingjay Part II a valuable film, if dark. If you are a veteran of many emotional wars, you might appreciate this film for what it gives back to you: the face of a citizen turned survivor, turned bride, turned symbol, turned warrior, turned mourner, turned leader, turned martyr, turned nurse, turned assassin, turned mother, turned myth.
Katniss Everdeen is the heroine every woman can be and no sane woman wants to become.
Thankfully, she does and we are all glad she finds some peace.
Now let us let the Mockingjay rest and remember what she gave us.
[Raises three fingers of left hand and whistles softly]
“My dear Miss Everdeen, I thought we had an agreement not to lie to each other.”