Maze Runner: The Death Cure
By: Arlene Allen
I have to confess, prior to seeing Maze Runner: The Death Cure, I had yet to see any of the Maze Runner films. After seeing this movie, I went home and binged the first two – Maze Runner and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. Yes, I was that impressed! You can see Maze Runner: The Death Cure without having seen the first two films, as I did, and enjoy this outing. The plot is fairly straightforward and after the first twenty minutes or so I was able to follow the story, as well as being awed and moved by it. Of course, if you have seen the first two, it is my thought that you will be twice as impressed, enthused and satisfied with the final installment of the Maze Runner trilogy.
The film rips open with Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his friends Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Frypan (Dexter Darden), Brenda (Rosa Salazar) and leaders Vince (Barry Pepper) and Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) hijacking a train in order to rescue Minho (Ki Hong Li) from WICKED, who had captured him and dozens of other young people at the end of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. It’s an exciting sequence of heroic derring-do. And while our good guys succeed in making off with a train car, unfortunately it isn’t the one carrying Minho.
The group hears that Minho has been taken to a city, a stronghold controlled and fiercely guarded by WICKED where we see him being tortured and experimented on. The Flare virus is spreading and more and more people are becoming cranks (that world’s version of zombies). We see Teresa (Kaya Scoladario) working alongside the ambiguous Dr. Paige (Could she have a conscious after all?) at the behest of WICKED’s mastermind, Janson (still a bad guy) to find a cure. Teresa does appear to have occasional twinges of guilt about betraying Thomas and the Gladers, but still believes that all of the experiments she is doing on her unwilling young subjects is for the greater good. She is still unaware that Thomas is alive, although Dr. Paige (Patricia Clarkson) and Janson (Aidan Gillen) know.
Despite warnings from Vince, Thomas, Newt, Frypan we watch Brenda and Jorge head off to this city to rescue Minho and, hopefully, takedown WICKED once and for all. They encounter old friends and enemies along the way and make some strange new alliances in this non-stop action filled science fiction adventure.
Like the first two films, Maze Runner: The Death Cure is a dystopian epic chock full of allegory relevant to our modern times, as the best dystopian fiction should be. Like its predecessors, this film is full of dazzling special effects warranting more than a single jaw drop. Set design, CGI and cinematography all combine to create amazing panoramas. WICKED’s city is impressive, intimidating and yet another sort of maze for the eye to devour. We see how the elite and the rich of WICKED live, their disdain and disregard for the lower classes and those struck by the virus.
The makeup effects are impressive as well. Walton Goggins stars as Lawrence, a virus infected leader of a crank rebellion. His “crank look” is horrific and compelling at the same time it’s this look and the look of the other cranks that raise Maze Runner: The Death Cure above the average zombie flick. The action is (of course) fast paced, keeping you on the edge of your seat. The opening sequence with the train hijacking is impressive on all of these fronts with some appropriately tense and driving music as a soundtrack.
I was moved by the performances of the cast’s main young actors. It is clear that they have formed a genuine bond with each other over the course of the last four years and it evidently shows on screen. Dylan O’Brien (of “Teen Wolf” fame) is especially good and Thomas Brodie-Sangstar (“Game of Thrones”) as Newt steals every scene he’s in and very nearly walks off with the whole movie. Aidan Gillen (also of “Game of Thrones” fame) has honed playing a villain into a fine art. I was impressed by the diversity of the cast and it occurred to me that films featuring young people are succeeding at representing a multicultural world than their more aged counterparts.
Comparisons to The Hunger Games are perhaps inevitable, as both deal with young people in a dystopian setting dealing with a corrupt and menacing government. However, that seems to be the entire extent of the similarities. This is not an and/or choice and I’m hoping people will not let this particular issue keep them from seeing Maze Runner: The Death Cure in theaters. Long-time fans (or “Gladers” as they’re called) certainly won’t be disappointed, although it might behoove them to bring a box of tissues along. If you haven’t seen any of the Maze Runner films yet, don’t let this keep you away – this is young adult science fiction/action adventure at its best. It certainly made a fan out of me!