by Dan Webster & Bonnie Anderson
The final installment of ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise, ‘Mockingjay Part 2,’ takes a while to finish but in the end, power wins. And it’s clearly power over; never power with. We like Jennifer Lawerence. If you haven’t seen “American Hustle” do so. She is great. But Mockingjay, Part 2 is missing her spark. Other actors in the film, Woody Harrelson, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore also are lack-luster. At least Jennifer Lawrence is in good company. The film also lacks the outlandishly strange and beautiful costumes that feathered the previous episodes and threats faced by Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and her entourage are reduced to slimy half-humans and repeated landslides.
You may have to spend some time trying to figure out who’s the good guy and who’s the bad. This is not a clear-cut morality play. In fact, this film is fortunately the last of the Hunger Game films based on the trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Katniss has been called a savior in many reviews. Yes, she is fighting against an oppressive regime that has tormented the outlying districts of the fictional country of Panem. Yes, Katniss is an inspiration to many of her fellow citizens.
But a savior in Hollywood, whether a female or male character, is one who kills, maims, destroys and eliminates adversaries. Oh, there are discussions about what will it take to stop the killing and who will stop it first. So there are flashes of compassion and conscience in her character, but in the end, she is queen of the mountain.
Seeing this movie in light of the terrorist attacks in Europe, Africa and the Middle East was a bit eerie. One scene has Katniss and a colleague posing as refugees to sneak into the Capitol to kill someone. And as you sit there wondering which side is good and which is bad, the phrase comes to mind: “One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.”
The rise of dystopian films in recent years, all convey the same message: only violence can overcome evil. We won’t find gospel values of non-violence or “love your enemy” in these films. These movies concentrate on humanity’s baser instincts not on the fruits of the Spirit we are promised by St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
The hunger in this film is for power. Greed replaces greed as the film winds to a close in a rather schmaltzy family scene pointing toward the simple happiness of family. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as there is thankfulness and recollection of what it took to get there.
Bonnie Anderson is a very active lay leader in her parish, diocese and in the wider Episcopal Church. She is an experienced community organizer and lives in suburban Detroit. Dan Webster is an Episcopal priest in Baltimore, Maryland and a former broadcast news executive. But don’t expect only east coast urban perspectives here. As it turns out, they both grew up in Southern California. They blog about films and faith at Faith Reels