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Maze Runner: The Death Cure – Movie Review

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Maze Runner: The Death Cure – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy 20th Century Fox

It seems like so long ago that the dystopian young adult adaptation was a popular source of inspiration in Hollywood. Maze Runner: The Death Cure feels like the last remnant of that era, which will more than satisfy those who have eagerly watched Thomas’s battle against a zombie virus and determined government over the course of these films. The Maze Runner property has been one running on a lack of logic since the beginning and neither of the previous entries have been particularly memorable affairs. The Death Cure is probably the strongest one as there finally seems like there’s a sense of urgency here. While it takes a long time to reach the conclusion, it closes off the trilogy the way one anticipates it would.

The Death Cure’s strengths lie in its action scenes and while director Wes Ball could have relied a little less on shaky cam, they are well mounted and with an understanding of the characters’ motivations. The plot of this is rather simple: find the cure and stop the zombie virus. There are no ridiculous labyrinths and merely running around this time. There does seem to be a strategy with which the characters plan things out. This does allow Ball to craft a couple of inventive action sequences. The most amusing is one involving a bus that ends on a genuinely funny note. The Death Cure manages to handle the impressive task of featuring an entire ensemble of characters and giving them each something to do. Even Thomas Sangster’s often sidelined Newt has an actual arc in this entry.

The screenplay does include some contrivances, including a few reveals that could very well lead to eye rolls. One of these effectively removes any sort of tension and finality from the story. A few other revelations only make the titular maze that much more of a pointless exercise and show how almost inept this evil organisation is. Speaking of which, the villains lack any real menace, with Patricia Clarkson’s chancellor feeling like a completely different person here. The continuing problems from the previous films also manifest here. The use of cutesy names like “Flare” for the virus and “Crank” for the zombies has always been an underwhelming attempt at world-building.

Thomas exists as a blank slate protagonist for the audience to project themselves onto, but he nonetheless suffers from the “Chosen One” symptom of being told how great he is with little to show for it. Dylan O’Brien tries his best in the role, but one almost wishes that Newt or Rosa Salazar’s freedom fighter Brenda were the central focus. There is some promise from the potential arc of former Maze Runner Teresa working for the villains and the film does effectively show her concerns about the virus. Unfortunately, there is little emotional attachment towards these characters. That makes the attempts at pathos ring hollow. The Death Cure also runs far too long, although it is appreciative that they didn’t split the last book into two adaptations. However, upon reaching the 90 minute mark, it becomes a patient wait for them to finally find the titular death cure.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure doesn’t attempt to appeal beyond the series’ core fanbase and that’s fine. There is a fair amount to appreciate, especially since Wes Ball has managed to guide this franchise from the beginning. Hailing from the visual effects world, Ball does show some promise as a director and one hopes he gets the chance to work with stronger material. Watching The Death Cure is like saying a final farewell to this genre, with plenty of the clichés common in these young adult sagas. On the positive side, they also got to finish telling this story. Divergent wasn’t quite so lucky.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE


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