Maze Runner: The Death Cure ★★★½
Humpo Show Rating | 7.3
IMDb Rating | 6.3
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Ki Hong Lee. Kaya Schodelario, Will Poulter, Barry Pepper, Patricia Clarkson,
Director: Wes Ball
Plot Summary: Young hero Thomas embarks on a mission to find a cure for a deadly disease known as ‘The Flare’ (IMDb)
The final installment of The Maze Runner film series, adapted from the James Dashner series of books, hit the big screen earlier this year to mixed reactions. I for one have enjoyed the film series for its entertaining action, intriguing storyline, and young actors that have led an engaging YA franchise into an era following the runaway successes of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.
The opening scene, the train heist, is absolutely fantastic. It reminded me of the 2018 release A Star Wars Story: Solo, where Solo, Chewwie et al are attempting to rob a moving train as it manoeuvres through snowy mountain terrain. Death Cure’s scene is as good as that, if not better, and it has everything an action film needs in regards to setting the tone: a real sense of urgency, a thundering score, near misses aplenty, and it has the added bonus of catching us up with how things were left after the Scorch Trials. There is minimal dialogue and the terrain, not only cements the continuity of the second film, but it adds to the spectacle.
The sound design deserve a special mention as their involvement helps to really ramp up the tension in the opening scene, and every other ensuing scene to a higher level. They manage to heighten the tension in every vehicular chase, Minho’s nightmares, and the near misses that the survivors have as they dodge and dive from WCKD.
Janson (Aidan Gillen) is ultimately the main villain of the franchise, as Ava becomes more absent and defeated in Death Cure. Despite Gillen’s best efforts, he can’t mask the fact that Janson is a bit of a poor villain as there really isn’t much depth to his character other than wanting to kill Thomas, and to live for as long as possible. While WCKD is more ambiguous in terms of its goals – trying to find a cure for the flare, no matter the cost – Janson is single-minded and lacks any sort of redeeming features. The action scenes with Janson and Thomas are brutally shot, and do make for some entertaining scenes. Teresa’s ‘greater good’ ethos helps to fill the chasm between Janson (the villain) and Thomas (the hero). She firmly believes what she is doing is right, and will help others, even if the methods of WCKD are frighteningly horrific. The end result of its testing is for a noble cause, but its methods can not justify the brutality that occurs throughout the three films.
Dylan O’Brien leads the franchise well, and he embodies Thomas in every scene. He even sustained a serious injury doing one of the stunts, that set back production a year. But despite that mishap, he managed to anchor the film well, produce an array of emotions as his character is put through the emotional ringer, and still remains a strong and stoic hero. However, my stand-out performer from Death Cure has to be Brodie-Sangster. His portrayal of Newt is simply superb. When Newt gets infected with the ‘flare’ virus, Brodie-Sangster encapsulates the initial emotions to heart-wrenching perfection, especially after developing a strong, broherthly bond with Thomas over the course of three films. That bond is solidified in Death Cure, and the scene with him and Thomas within ‘the last city’ is truly memorable. The switching between ‘flared’ and normal is acted terrifically well, and the progression is well paced as well, so kudos to Wes Ball there too.
The film is engineered to the big crescendo of act three/four: the infiltration of WCKD headquarters, attempting to rescue Minho, and the ensuing battle between WCKD and the survivors. There is some amazing camerawork involving a certain jump out of a window, followed by an all-out war occurring within the city walls which is shot brilliantly- much better than Mockingjay Part Two.
Cliches are bound to happen in a YA-dystopian film, but that is just part of the movie magic for me, and their inclusion fitted well with the action taking place, including the last second escapes. The film is visually stunning, which helps to compliment the entertaining nature of the action, and Wes Ball has managed to create a competent, well-structured and directed film, that is great fun to watch, and ties up the trilogy in a satisfying manner.