Maze trilogy reaches a final dead end
THE MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE (M, 142 MINS) DIRECTED BY WES BALL ★★1⁄2
I have truly lost track of the number of times in the last few years I have written the words, ‘‘In a dystopian near-future’’, to describe whatever the latest teen-thriller is I’m allegedly reviewing.
Honestly, what is it with the – mostly middle-aged – writers of teen novels and screenplays? Everything seems to be a postapocalyptic variation on exactly what has gone before. The world is an irradiated and smoking wreck, a few corrupt (older, white) people are in charge and only a cast of hilariously photogenic teenagers can save us now.
Sure, formula is safe and formula sells. But I really would pay a little extra for my ticket just to see something that steps outside the colouring-in lines a little. Or that had at least one plot point you couldn’t have guessed from looking at the poster in the lobby. Yeah, well don’t hold your breath Tuckett. Especially when this morning’s movie is Maze Runner: The Death Cure.
The Death Cure is the third and quite probably last film in The Maze Runner franchise. There’s a faraway glint in lead Dylan O’Brien’s eye in the final shot, which indicates the door to a further sequel is still open, but with this instalment we have at least reached the end of James Dashner’s trilogy of young-adult novels.
Although Dashner has written two prequels, we pick up the action pretty much immediately after the events of the last film. The ‘‘immunes’’ are a group of young people who carry a mutation which allows them to survive the plague that is ravaging the Earth. A bunch of wealthy, desperate and mostly corrupt doctors and military types – working for the tellingly named WCKD corporation – are hunting them down to make a vaccine from their blood.
The Death Cure kicks off with a well put together and promising opening scene in which two jeep loads of aspiring male models, two old blokes and a token young woman take down an armoured train and hijack a helicopter. From there, sadly, The Death Cure is mostly a downhill ride.
O’Brien (Deepwater Horizon), Kaye Scodelario (Wuthering Heights) and Thomas Brodie Sangster (Bright Star) are the pivots of the young cast, with Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) and Patricia Clarkson (The Station Agent) as the old ‘uns who are variously allies and foes to the kids.
On the screen, with the under30 contingent running around in their ripped-just-so cotton and leather ensembles, The Death Cure looks mostly like a breathless and wildly over-ambitious Hallensteins’ TV commercial being performed against a backdrop that could best be described as Blade Runner by Pam’s.
But, credit where it’s due, this is a film that doesn’t outstay its welcome, never looks less-than-competently made and has a few moments of visual flourish that really belong in the service of a story far less tired and predictable than this one.
It makes little sense, and certainly never adds up to a memorable whole. But the performances are fine, the camera and sound work are sterling and the set and production design is all straight off the top-shelf.
The Death Cure is probably about as well-done as it was ever going to be allowed to be. And, it does mark the conclusion of a trilogy that has actually got incrementally better with each episode. Bravo. – Graeme Tuckett.
The Death Cure does mark the conclusion of a trilogy that has actually got incrementally better with each episode.