Film Review – Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Maze Runner: The Death Cure, the final film in the trilogy, is finally here. Originally scheduled to premiere in February 2017, the delay is due to Dylan O’Brien’s on-set injury while performing a stunt. Given that Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials hit theatres over two years ago, the trilogy may have lost some momentum, but fans of the films and the young adult books by James Dashner will hopefully turn out for the final film.
The Death Cure picks up several months after the ending of The Scorch Trials. The opening scenes throw you back into the action as Thomas’ (O’Brien) vow to save Minho (Ki Hong Lee) from WCKD has not been forgotten. Still teamed together with what remains of the Right Arm, Thomas continues his personal fight along with Vince’s (Barry Pepper) ultimate goal to move the kids to a safe place far from WCKD. Brenda (Rosa Salazar) and Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) are still banded together with Thomas along with the remaining Gladers, Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Frypan (Dexter Darden). When it becomes apparent that WCKD is moving all the remaining kids to the last remaining safe city, Thomas and his friends break off from The Right Arm and travel to this protected city to find and save Minho. Of course, Ava (Patricia Clarkson) and Janson (Aiden Gillen) are still a part of WCKD and are still trying to find a cure for “The Flare” along with recent, ultimate betrayer, Teresa (Kaya Scoldelaria).
Thomas is probably the best friend you wish you had. He is determined in his effort to retrieve Minho, despite all the obstacles in his way along with his disregard for self-preservation. It is this drive that becomes the focus of the entire last film. While other doomsday plot devices are swirling around Thomas and the friends who joined him, he does not seem to care as long as he can find Minho. There is the by-product of saving the other kids that are held by WCKD in the process, but if Minho were to be someplace else entirely, Thomas would abandon any effort to defeat WCKD to retrieve Minho. Loyalty is his greatest strength, but it is also his weakness. He is not a hero to the Right Arm, or those pushed aside to suffer and die from the disease. His cause only followed the same path as defeating the story’s villain, and that is how he became a lauded individual. He is the main character, but he is flawed and struggling with who he was and trying to combine it with who he is now in the story. Even as the story concludes, Thomas is still conflicted with his role in the world. While this is all part of the adaptation, it is not without Dylan O’Brien’s portrayal of Thomas that all this becomes masterfully apparent. O’Brien may have been latched onto by the producers due to his overwhelming popularity from Teen Wolf, but his portrayal of Thomas gives proof of a long career outside of a teen show.
The major flaw of The Death Cure, along with its two previous films, is the length of the film. Sitting at two hours and twenty-two minutes, the film feels long. Given that the level of action is much higher in The Death Cure, it does not drag out or have many lulls in moving the story forward compared to The Scorch Trials. With any novel adaptation, it is a struggle to decide what to include and what ends up on the cutting room floor. As a non-reader, I cannot tell you what is different from the novel, but there are changes as my reader friend pointed out. Both the novel and the film got to the same ending, but the details of how they arrived at that point are different along with the manner of deaths and rescues.
The Death Cure has a few fantastic surprises (with one being paramount), especially for non-readers, and I won’t spoil them here. One interesting surprise (but not spoiler-worthy) is the appearance of Walton Goggins as Lawrence. Lawrence is the leader of the rebellion outside of the city’s wall and has been affected by the Flare. Even with his nose gone and gnarly makeup enhancing the later stages of the Flare, it was immediately apparent to me that it was Goggins playing Lawrence. Even with Patricia Clarkson, Aiden Gillen, Barry Pepper, and Giancarlo Esposito already part of the cast, the final film has enough pull to enlist another star to its cast, even in a minor role.
I absolutely love the Maze Runner trilogy. It is one of the dystopian, young adult adaptations that have made it to the final film. Where Divergent has failed (and is still failing), Maze Runner has excelled as an exciting story with compelling characters. Boosted by a diverse cast of well-known actors and those coming up in Hollywood, the director Wes Ball, along with screenwriter T.S. Nowlin, has managed to do what other productions have not been able to grasp. The films are not something I would ever have gone out of my way to see, but I was tasked with reviewing the first film, and I became hooked on its story and its depiction onscreen. With the final film here, I would place it right up there with The Hunger Games’ films. It is a shame that 20th Century Fox decided to put its final outing in the dreaded film graveyard of January where typically bad films hit theatres. If you never attempted to see any of the Maze Runner films, I would implore you to take a chance with the first film, knowing that the second film is the weakest, but be ready for an action-packed conclusion with The Death Cure.