The Hunger Games trilogy came to a cinematic close the weekend before Thanksgiving, and while Mockingjay Part 2 redeemed itself from Mockingjay Part 1, I do not think most people will understand the message this series conveys. In 2012, I wrote a review on the first and second movie, which gave me high hopes for the rest of the series. Unfortunately, the last two movies fell far short of the first movie’s great dialogue, emotion, and message of hope that I know Suzanne Collins, the novels’ author, would want portrayed. However, despite the film’s mediocrity, Katniss’ character sends a surprising message about true love.
Mockingjay Part 2 follows the continuing war between the Rebels and the Capitol. Katniss is still the voice and symbol of hope to the people of Panem, and both President Snow of the Capitol and President Coin of the Rebels, try to manipulate her to their advantage. Katniss’ suspicions are raised as President Coin continues to attack the Capitol and its surrounding Districts even at the risk of killing innocent civilians. So Katniss decides to take matters into her own hands—Gale, Katniss, and Peeta, along with a few other soldiers embark on a secret mission to assassinate President Snow. Katniss is motivated only by the love for her sister and her love for Peeta. Peeta struggles throughout the entire film, trying to sift his thoughts into what is real and what the Capitol planted in his head. He even attempts to kill Katniss a few times, but Katniss continues to protect and love him. Gale, Katniss’ childhood friend and other love interest, has his own internal struggles dealing with Katniss’ obvious love for Peeta and the need to protect his people at any cost. All of these emotions come to a head as the violence escalates and the end of the war is in sight.
As we saw in the first Hunger Games, Katniss only kills in self-defense or when it is absolutely necessary. Her disdain for killing becomes more obvious the more death and violence she witnesses. However, I found the film’s main focus to be Katniss’ loyalty to Peeta. Yes, she protects human lives, but who is the one she protects the most? Peeta. The last film is a love story—Katniss is the very definition of loyalty through sickness, and in health, until death do us part. Katniss always defends Peeta, even when he strangles her or tries to hurt her, or people speak ill of him. His mental illness never blinds her to who Peeta truly is—the boy who gave her bread when she was starving, and the man who helped her survive the Hunger Games… twice.
On the other hand, Gale protected her family during the Hunger Games, but now Gale’s focus is tainted by war. Katniss distances herself from Gale the more he agrees with President Coin’s tactics of endangering innocent human lives. Although he may not vocalize his approval, his complacency leads to the death of many innocent children, including Katniss’ sister Prim. After that, Katniss no longer trusts him the way she once did. She no longer tries to convince herself that she still loves Gale—it has always been Peeta by her side literally and morally.
Most of the reviews you will read on this film focus on the violence and hopeless portrayal of war. While that is all true, the underlying story has always been Katniss and Peeta. The end of the war shifts the focal point to only them and their future. They look to one another for solace in the aftermath of the war, and with the healing power of time they are able to move on and start a family. Hope is made manifest in their love and the new life of their children. To me, the message is clear—love is the only way to overcome such tragedy and suffering—it is the only way to move from simply surviving to living.
Please enjoy another great review of Mockingjay Part 2 by Nick Olszyk at Catholic World Report.