“The Maze Runner” series is a young adult dystopian fiction (is there any other kind?) that deals with teens in a critical situation when the world goes haywire. “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” is the final chapter of the three books converted into movies. The books/movies have been pretty popular, but the quality is sometime lacking. This latest serving assumes that you have a precise knowledge of the prior two movies, “The Maze Runner” and “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials“. If you are not familiar with them, you could be in for a shock.
The movie barrels right into the action as if the “Fast and Furious” was the guiding light from Heaven. With nothing in the way of introduction, it gets straight into a train robbery right off the bat. But they are not stealing cars, they are releasing prisoners. There are the goody guys against a wicked organization called WCKD. Great use of subtlety here, right? Anyway, the train is carrying captive kids from the prior movies, and they are being taken for more experiments. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) is the leader with Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Brenda (Rosa Salazar) and Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) helping him to get all the kids freed. Vince (Barry Pepper) is also an ally who can get the materials the need to attack the train.
Thomas and Newt are from the “Glade”, and they escaped with Minho (Ki Hong Lee) who has been captured. He was taken when another person from the Glade, named Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), turned traitor and gave Minho up to WCKD. Now Teresa works for the evil agency with Dr. Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson), who is studying the kids to see why they have an immune gene to prevent a disease called the “Flare”. WCKD is also run by a slimy guy named Janson (Aidan Gillen), who will stop at nothing to get the “Glade” kids and keep them captive for more study.
Minho was not found on the train, so he is still captured and taken into the WCKD-run Last City, a final place for civilization that is free from the Flare virus. Thomas and Newt and friends find an old-time Glader named Galley (Will Poulter) who was missing for a long time. Galley can get into the city, so there they can search for Minho and free him. Thomas will work with a new partner named Lawrence (Walton Goggins) who is suffering from the Flare and is ebbing away. Thomas can bring back a serum from in the city where Dr. Paige and Teresa are doing the terrible experiments. When they find and release Minho, then will also bring back all the serum, which is known as the “Death Cure”.
When they enter the City and attack WCKD headquarters, it all goes sideways. There are outrageous plans to get imprisoned kids and free them and take them away on a bus. They find Minho and get him free, but by that time the City is under attack from Lawrence and his minions of Flare-infected followers. Teresa tries to get Thomas to stay and help because he is the key to the cure. Dr. Paige is ready to leave and escape, but the evil Janson will prevent anyone from leaving. Newt and Thomas are about to escape, but Newt is has been ill for some time. Who will live? Who will die? And who can make it out alive?
There is so much stuffed into this movie that it only moves forward with the full-on action sequences. There is very little exposition that connects to any of the prior movies, so the audience needs to know a lot of details from all that happened before. Characters are introduced, or reintroduced, without much fanfare about where you might have seen them before. The explanation of what the main story is about is left to seeing the action and knowing which group is the good people and which are the bad guys.
Granted, there are many well constructed action pieces that have you following along with excitement. But the characters are mostly cardboard cutouts of real people, and not given much depth or deeper meaning. With the action as the greatest asset in the movie, all the actors and acting talent become nothing more than pawns on a chessboard. They move back and forth, and there is a lot happening, but nothing really is revealed.
The practical visual effects and the CGI effects blend in pretty well. It is a well designed movie and the places look futuristic and potentially frightening. But there is no better purpose but to finish up the story that was started a couple movies back. Most things get wrapped up, presuming that you kept track of who was from what prior movie and who did what back then. There is a lot of action and it keeps going on for almost two and a half hours.
Director Wes Ball has actually been in charge of all three of the “Maze Runner” movies. He could have used a better editor, who could have taken this movie and focused the main action into a narrower path. By the time this movie ends, you are glad you made it out of the “Maze”…