Movie review: Maze Runner: The Death Cure

The conclusion of the series unfortunately has very few surprises

Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Labyrint: Vražedná léčba)
Directed by Wes Ball
With Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen. Walton Goggins, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Will Poulter, Patricia Clarkson

The Maze Runner series meanders to its conclusion with the third installment, Maze Runner: The Death Cure.

The post-apocalyptic series is not very original, borrowing very heavily from zombie films, Alien, The Hunger Games, The Lord of the Flies, 1984, Cube and other sources.

Taken as a whole, Maze Runner series is a bit better than Divergent and The 5th Wave, but not as good as The Hunger Games.

People who aren’t fans of the series will be at a loss, as long-standing conflicts among the characters drive much of the plot, and there are just hints of explanations to help people catch up.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure is also rather long, at 142 minutes. There has been a trend to make final installments into two parts, like Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Twilight did.

In the end, all the action was jammed into one film, which keeps it moving but also makes it rather confusing. Director Wes Ball said before production started that a trilogy should have three parts, and not four.

The series has its own very annoying vocabulary, and there are web pages devoted to explaining what shank, griever and jacked mean. Most of the slang becomes obvious even if you are a “greenie” to the series. The jargon may have sounded good in the novels, but on the screen, it doesn’t work as well and highlights the teen-fiction aspect of the project. Some of the young actors struggle to try to make it sound natural.

What people should know going into the third part is that a virus called the Flare has wiped out much of civilization. People infected are called Cranks, for some reason, as if nobody has ever seen a zombie film. The Glade was a location in the first film, surrounded by a maze. The Scorch is a wasteland seen in the second film filled with ragtag survivors. The scary-sounding group called WCKD, pronounced “wicked” is the fascist organization manipulating all the events “for the greater good.” They have high-tech weapons and black-clad soldiers in masks. A group called the Right Arm opposes them.

The action or the third part picks up right after the events of the second chapter, without any sort of recap.

The hero throughout the series has been Thomas (played by Dylan O'Brien), a good-looking young adult who is immune to the virus. He is a little too squeaky clean, and this keeps the series from having an edge. It is easy to root for him, but if he had some flaws he would have been more interesting.

The crux of the plot is that Thomas leads a rescue mission to free Minho (Ki Hong Lee), one of the key characters who survived all the obstacles from the first two installments.

The chase takes them back into underground tunnels, as there must be some sort of maze in each episode. There is a lot of hiding, running and narrow escapes throughout the film, and some interesting new locations. But it is also way too much of the same compared to the other two episodes and also compared to the Divergent series and the 5th Wave (the latter of which so far does not have its sequel in production).

Standing out in the ensemble cast is Rosa Salazar as Brenda, a tough survivalist who joins in on the rescue mission. She had a smaller role in the second installment. Salazar has the makings of an action star if she gets the right roles.

One of the few adults on the good side, veteran actor Giancarlo Esposito returns as Jorge. He had a supporting role in Breaking Bad and was in several Spike Lee films including Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X. His acting skill helps to point out how unconvincing some of the other cast members are.

Irish actor Aidan Gillen has been the villain throughout the series, and he overplays the part of the slick, smooth-talking liar. Like Dylan O'Brien as the good guy, a little more ambiguity would have helped the series.

The production values are high, save for a few obvious shots with some sloppy CGI, such as a depiction of a wall around the city that WCKD uses as its refuge.

The closing episode leaves an awful lot of unanswered questions, though, and people who sat through the first two parts hoping that everything would eventually make sense will be very disappointed. That, combined with some iffy acting, derivative story and repetitive action scenes make it a film for indiscriminate fans of dystopian sci-fi and teen fiction.

There was a delay of about a year in the release of the last chapter due to Dylan O'Brien getting injured on the set, leading to filming being shut down. After he recovered, he had commitments to first do other projects such as Deepwater Horizon and American Assassin.

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