Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)
Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 2 hrs. 22 min.

Release Date: January 26th, 2018 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Wes Ball Actors: Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Rosa Salazar, Kaya Scodelario, Aidan Gillen, Giancarlo Esposito, Walton Goggins, Will Poulter, Patricia Clarkson, Barry Pepper, Ki Hong Lee, Katherine McNamara

 


 

A

fter Minho (Ki Hong Lee) is captured by the ruthless Janson (Aidan Gillen) and his W.C.K.D. soldiers, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his former Glade members team up with their newfound resistance allies to execute an elaborate rescue mission. When the crew fails to retrieve their target, Thomas, Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), and Frypan (Dexter Darden) head out alone to the “Last City,” a walled-off fortress buried deep within a metropolis of ruins, where they hope to locate Minho. Soon joined by Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and Brenda (Rosa Salazar), the group arrives at their destination to uncover a powder keg of confrontation between the heavily fortified society inside the city and the abandoned rebels just beyond the gates. As Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and the other W.C.K.D scientists continue their callous experiments on Minho and the children immune to the Flare virus, Thomas and his friends must sneak into the organization’s headquarters and find a way to recover the prisoners before the city erupts in chaos.

It begins with a cold open in a postapocalyptic desert wasteland, where a rendezvous or a hijacking or a rescue is about to commence. It’s a surprisingly well designed start, mixing together a high-speed pursuit, death-defying stunts (most likely augmented by CG), and explosive gunfire. “You’re on your own,” cautions Brenda. “Don’t die.” As amusing as all the action is, it also culminates in some problems that are readily adopted over and over again throughout the picture. At the exact spot where a train car grinds to a halt after being separated from the engine, reinforcements emerge, crouched behind boulders. How incredibly precise. And convenient. And numerous following moments of action are patterned in the same way: just as the heroes are about to be overtaken or dispatched by the enemy, support appears, as if materialized from thin air – down to the second or the inch in which they’re needed.

Nevertheless, this opening sequence is sharply choreographed, suspenseful, and fun. But did the filmmakers exhaust all of their resources on a splashy beginning? Despite the budget seemingly getting spread all the way to the climax, the excitement never quite matches this first scene. From there, time must also be spent on a proper introduction, since this is the third part to the series. “He’s not here,” repeats a rescuer, even though it’s not apparent who exactly they’re searching for. Clearly, audiences will need to brush up on the previous film to fully grasp the goings-on in this conclusion.

Once it’s reiterated that the Flare virus has turned most of the world’s population into twitchy zombies, and that a single dear friend is still in the clutches of the abominable organization that will stop at nothing to find a cure (what are a few tortured children if it saves everyone?), the film transforms into a considerably protracted rescue operation – wherein the handful of heroes (who are given names, and therefore must be important) traverse dark tunnels, immediately lose their vehicle, run out of ammo, and require some last-minute saving for themselves. Into the lion’s den they go, rubbing elbows with fellow rebels, an extremist faction, opposition soldiers, cruel scientists, and elite citizens, all while failing to exhibit traits that set them apart from the other teen-oriented dystopian adventure franchises (such as “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent”). It’s occasionally difficult to sort out who did what – and in which episode and in which theatrical property.

A few forgotten characters from the past return, while several others are simply forgettable (Nathalie Emmanuel’s Harriet garners no more than a few seconds of screentime). This surely dulls the betrayal and the trust issues, since it feels long ago that people like Teresa so misguidedly abandoned her friends for a cause. Still, as the movie transitions from environments reminiscent of “Mad Max” into sets that could have been in “Blade Runner,” the infiltration, sabotage, and action continue to hold up. Villains always seem to outmaneuver the heroes, but not because they’re smarter – merely because they’re scripted to spontaneously guess at what the rebels are plotting. By the end of it all, which carries on far too long (“Let’s not prolong this,” commands Janson, who then neglects his own advice by dragging out his final confrontation to an unbearable degree), the conveniences and derivations refuse to taper – but neither do the chaotic shootouts, hair-raising escapes, nicely minimalistic humor, and epic clashes of good and evil. The finale is uncaringly overlong, yet “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” is a fitting close to the series, and more entertaining than it should have been, what with the diminishing box office receipts and its January release date.

– The Massie Twins

  • 6/10