Maze Runner: The Death Cure (aka Maze Runner 3) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Only at the end does The Maze Runner trilogy reveal its hallow nature of yet another young adult dystopian adventure that never hits The Hunger Game levels of popularity or intrigue. I’m honestly surprised this saga even made it this far to the screen, as the likes of the Divergent series fell to the wayside as Hunger Games faded from the trending box office. And while The Maze Runner certainly found a way to avoid an abrupt death, it merely peters out for an ending with plenty of action and showdowns.
It doesn’t help that the final film of the trilogy comes off more like business as usual than a climactic end. Dylan O'Brien is once again the young hero Thomas, trying to lead his tenacious band of rebellious Gladers, the ones immune to a deadly virus, from being enslaved by the inhumane WCKD for experimentation. After freeing another group from a slave train, Thomas’ group of The Right Arm resistance tracks down the WCKD to their last surviving city, which seems to be doing quite well to appear as a towering metropolis of future tech. Aidan Gillen once again plays the eager military official that wants to gun this resistance down and Patricia Clarkson the sinister mastermind behind finding a cure at any cost.
It’s incredibly embarrassing that a film such as this running 143 minutes feels too fast and frantic to make us care about any of it. We don’t get to learn much about the rebellious leader Giancarlo Esposito past his tactics for breaking into the city and taking down its defenses. Kaya Scodelario returns as little more than a familiar face in the laboratory that may or may not be working with the young rebels. And the young rebels themselves are in such a rush to finish out this picture that when the obligatory moment arrives for one of the young actors to have a somber death, I felt nothing for the character who ran and screamed through the picture. Just another supposedly tragic demise. Farewell, forgettable young actor; we literally hardly knew ye.
Without the grunt work of making us care more about the characters in their vanilla world of destruction and zombies, the big action sequences come off as a real bore. I don’t want to be bored by a scene where the rebels hijack a bus and then lift it through the air with an aircraft to make their escape but what is there to be invested in here? After three movies, I felt like I barely got to know anybody here that there’s little stake in this excuse for dystopian theatrics. It’s all just a smattering of cliche action moments. I hope you don’t grow too attached to that one rebel without a nose as he sacrifices himself with a car that explodes into a tower. How tragic it would’ve been if there were actually some personality present.
The action is even further a tiresome mess from the lack of grit. Notice how after everything that has gone wrong, the rebels still seem to disable the soldiers they attack. Even the WCKD soldiers seem to be taking it easy on the kills, merely swatting down civilians and sending them flying into the air with turrets that shoot electric charges. This is supposed to be the final film! Would it kill the filmmakers to take off the safeties so that the villain death with the overused “you sure I missed?” catchphrase means something more?
The Maze Runner comes stumbling to a tiring end with The Death Cure. Compare its similar dystopian tale to the likes of the new Planet of the Apes trilogy, where one can feel more for the characters and their plight than a plug-and-play assembly of action sequences for those who escape captivity and try to conquer their enslavers. When computer-generated apes have more emotion and character than drab teenage heroes scaling trains and towers, I knew for sure this young adult tale missed the mark, tripping all over itself to the very end of the line.