UK Release Date: 26th January 2018
Runtime: 142 minutes
Director: Wes Ball
Writer: T.S. Nowlin
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aidan Gillen, Patricia Clarkson, Ki Hong Lee, Rosa Salazar
Synopsis: After escaping from the clutches of WCKD, while illness ravages the Earth, Thomas and his friends decide to break back in to save a captured comrade from the days of the Maze
Did you think the Maze Runner franchise had already finished? You’re not alone. It has been three years since The Scorch Trials arrived, with this trilogy closer delayed by a horrible accident that saw leading man Dylan O’Brien out of action for almost a year. The movie has finally made its way to the big screen, looking like a movie that has missed the boat of its appeal and merely a contractual obligation for those involved. It’s sad to say it, given the Maze Runner franchise’s consistently decent level of quality, but The Death Cure is a wet blanket of an ending.
The first and most obvious problem is that The Death Cure makes no allowance for the passage of time. Unless you’re a flawless expert in the Maze Runner universe, the film will almost certainly lose you in the midst of its high-octane opening, which provides fanfare introductions for seemingly dozens of minor characters. Director Wes Ball seems blissfully unaware of the fact that even the most committed of fans has almost certainly not thought about these movies for many years. His movie is defiantly opaque to the casual viewer throughout its expansive running time.
From what I can piece together, we join up with the unheroically named Thomas (O’Brien), along with best friend Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), as they try to rescue buddy Minho (Ki Hong Lee). Meanwhile, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) is now working with WCKD all over again, as a close adviser to boss Ava (Patricia Clarkson), while security chief Janson (Aidan Gillen) tries to track down Thomas and his rebellious comrades. With the help of a face from their past, Thomas and Newt break into the last remaining city in the hope of bringing down WCKD for good.
The qualities that have made the Maze Runner franchise work so well over the years are largely present and correct in The Death Cure. Ball has an impressive eye for action and there’s an edge to the violence and action in these films that is absent from many of the more sanitised YA worlds. That said, there’s a definite lack of stakes in this movie, which is amplified and exacerbated by the incomprehensible storytelling. It’s tough to get invested in characters when there’s no way of knowing what they’re fighting for.
It has now been several years since the notion of a young adult blockbuster was actually a profitable one. Maze Runner: The Death Cure is a derivative, messy movie that feels like a relic from the days of box office dominance for the sub-genre. Arriving in 2018, it simply looks like a fish out of water. For the completists, it’s worth catching, but casual audience members should stay away.
Pop or Poop?
If you’re a devout Maze Runner fan, there will be an enjoyable catharsis to The Death Cure, which finally brings this franchise to its conclusion. However, for everybody else, this is a bloated and nonsensical YA actioner that loses its stakes in the mess of its plotting and enormous roster of minor characters. Wes Ball refuses to hold its audience’s hand and, therefore, loses them completely.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.