Directed by: Wes Ball
Premise: The third film in the Maze Runner series. Immediately following the events of The Scorch Trials, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and other members of the resistance attempt to rescue friends who are being held prisoner in a heavily guarded laboratory.
What Works: The most impressive quality of The Maze Runner series is the way each installment is distinctly different while fitting into a cohesive whole. The original film took place within a confined space and was a science fiction take on Lord of the Flies. The Scorch Trials was much broader and channeled zombie films and post-apocalyptic adventures, namely the Resident Evil series. The final installment changes the look yet again, this time an urban revolutionary sci-fi tale in the mold of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. The Death Cure has some impressive production values and the movie’s action sequences are especially well done. The final siege on the city has a gritty and practical look that gives the action scenes a genuine sense of peril.
What Doesn’t: Everything that’s good about The Death Cure is offset by clumsy and stupid storytelling decisions. The whole crux of this series is that an unscrupulous corporate laboratory needs these children as human guinea pigs to harvest a cure for the virus that is destroying mankind. It’s discovered that Thomas’ blood holds the key to a cure, making him invaluable, but when Thomas refuses to go along with the villains they try to kill him. The movie features a character who was killed in an earlier installment and his return makes no sense. The Death Cure feels less like a third installment of a series and more of an addendum to the second film. The filmmakers throw the viewer into the middle of the action without reestablishing the characters or their intentions. That’s especially a problem for The Death Cure because The Scorch Trials was so unmemorable and the characters are not distinct. The people of this series don’t progress individually or in their relationships to each other and new characters are underutilized. There are plot and character moments that are supposed to be impactful but they don’t land the way they are supposed to. The movie coasts by on the immediate thrills of its action set pieces but it doesn’t bring the Maze Runner series to a meaningful conclusion.
Bottom Line: The Death Cure is a good looking film and fans of the series will probably get something out of it. But the movie suffers from illogical story developments and characters who are not interesting.
Episode: #684 (February 4, 2018)