The irony of my trip to the theater to watch the third (and presumably last) installment of the “Maze Runner” film series – “The Death Cure” – was not lost on me.
I mean, there I was, watching a movie about a civilization willing to do just about anything to save the human race from a deadly virus (the Flare), and after 30 minutes all I could think about was how catching it might not be so bad if it meant I didn’t have finish watching the movie.
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito), Frypan (Dexter Darden), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Brenda (Rosa Salazar) are in search of answers in “Maze Runner: The Death Cure.” (Photo credit: Joe Alblas - TM & © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.)
This time out, our favorite Gladers – led by Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) – are hot on the trail of WCKD. If you recall from part two, with the assistance of Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), WCKD was able to launch an attack on the Gladers and their allies and take hostages, including Thomas' BFF, Minho (Ki Hong Lee).
With his bestie's – and the rest of the immune youth’s – well-being in danger, Thomas leads the team into an absolutely ridiculous rescue attempt, which is only partially successful.
In order to complete their mission – rescuing all of their fellow immunes and putting an end to WCKD once and for all – Thomas and his cohorts, including Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Brenda (Rosa Salazar), and Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito), must infiltrate the heavily-guarded WCKD stronghold … the last city that remains standing and free of the infected.
Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and Ava Page (Patricia Clarkson) look pensive. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox - TM & © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.)
As you can imagine, a film that features a David-like group of teenage misfits going toe-to-toe with an evil Goliath like WCKD is going to feature a lot of trickery and tomfoolery. I mean, with lower numbers and firepower, how else can they compete against an army? The problem is, there's some sort of sleight of hand roughly every 5-10 minutes – think “Now You See Me” without the magic or “Ocean's 13” without the bank heist.
And quite frankly, it starts wearing thin very early on.
There's virtually no way to believe that an organization like WCKD could survive what is essentially a zombie virus for years, but succumbs to each and every teenage prank the Gladers can throw at them. Sure, in any movie like this you need to suspend belief for a while, but the only thing that could make this premise believable is a frontal lobotomy.
To be fair, there's plenty of action to be had here. Unfortunately, it's shallow, pointless action that is obviously added to overcompensate for a story that's as thin as the paper it was written on.
I won't go into detail on the acting, but let's just say it's not quite on par with other young adult novel adaptations like “Twilight” and “Divergent.”
In the epic finale to the Maze Runner saga, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), with Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), leads the group of escaped Gladers on their final and most dangerous mission yet. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox - TM & © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.)
In all my time reviewing films (I started back in 2002), I'd be hard-pressed to find another series that fell off as sharply as this one did.
The first movie, “The Maze Runner,” was legitimately good. No qualifiers – it wasn't a “good popcorn flick” or a “good action movie,” it was simply a good movie. It had an intriguing story, interesting characters, acceptable acting, and action that was over-the-top but didn't distract from the narrative.
Perhaps that success set the bar a little high for movies based off of YA novels as part two - “The Scorch Trials” – was as bland as the first one was good. It was devoid of emotion from the characters and nothing that stood out it. It was so unmemorable that I couldn't even remember that I'd seen it until about half-way through it.
Despite that, “The Death Cure” actually makes it look good. It's a legitimately bad movie that basically spoils the entire series for me.
If we were to never see the Gladers on the big screen again, I doubt anyone would shed a tear.
★ of ★★★★★