Maze tril­ogy reaches a fi­nal dead end

The Horowhenua Mail - - CONVERSATIONS -

THE MAZE RUN­NER: THE DEATH CURE (M, 142 MINS) DI­RECTED BY WES BALL

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 teen­thriller 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-thancom­pe­tently 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.

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