Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Will Poulter
Directed by: Wes Ball
Written by: T.S. Nowlin
Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 2 hr 22 min.
My 2 Cents:
The first Maze Runner movie came out in 2014, and it was an above average dystopian action adventure. It had a good cast and an intriguing high-concept plot. The sequel, The Scorch Trials, on the other hand, wasn’t very good at all. Basically, two hours of people running away from things. It was dull and very forgettable.
So, with one moderately well received first dystopian installment, that wasn’t even close to The Hunger Games in terms of box office gold, and a less successful sequel, was anyone really champing at the bit for this last installment?
As a mostly no-nonsense action adventure flick, this wasn’t all that bad. The film is reasonably well produced, certainly not cheap looking, and opens with one of the best train heist sequences I’ve seen in years. The cast seems game, and if there wasn’t such a huge gap in time between this and the last film, I’m sure I would have cared more when the story took its more tragic turns.
What’s curious about this last film though, is the lack of direction. Not from Wes Ball as such (he did an okay job), but with the story. On the one side we’ve got our YA heroes, wannabe rebellious freedom fighter types, looking to save their friend from an evil corporation called WCKD (Wicked, get it?). On the other, actual freedom fighters looking to take back, or destroy, it’s not entirely clear, one of the last intact cities on Earth. Beyond those two elements, there’s the WCKD organization itself, which is trying to find a cure for a pandemic disease turning the world’s population into zombies. Their methods are somewhat draconian to be sure, but these are desperate times, and I found myself wondering who I should be rooting for.
If the film was trying to make a deeper point about the human race and its destructive nature, I think it missed the mark. If it was trying to muddy the waters between good and evil in order to get the audience to pick sides, I’m not sure why they bothered. When the movie is in action mode, it works quite well. When it slows down, some of the one-on-one drama is actually nicely done. When it plays ambiguous games with the good vs. evil narrative, it stumbles all over its own vague intentions.