‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ Closes Out the Series with a Whimper
More like the insomnia cure
Maze Runner: The Death Cure kicks off with Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) trying to find and free his Glader compatriot Minho (Ki hong Lee), who was last seen in the clutches of WCKD, the completely unethical corporation who has been torturing Thomas and similar young people all in the name of finding a cure for a virus that turns people into savage, mindless creatures. Thomas and his crew discover the existence of the Last City, a walled fortress town where WCKD is based. Thomas and his crew sneak into the Last City to find Minho, but in order to do so, Thomas must once again face Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), who betrayed the rest of the Gladers.
One could be forgiven for not remembering what went on in the previous installment of this series, which came out in 2015. But remembering might not actually help in this instance. This final chapter delivers an underwhelming endgame that fails to pick up on the many thematic threads that were established in the very first outing. It instead tries to compensate through sheer spectacle, drowning out the story and the characters in a mess of explosions and dramatic noise that fails to add much excitement to the proceedings.
This is the kind of final chapter that makes one suspect that the creators didn’t really have an endgame in mind. The weaknesses of the original premise, that had a corporation testing out young people immune to a particular virus by placing them in an elaborate maze structure meant to somehow develop a cure, are further revealed the more the film gets into the specifics of the treatments. It didn’t really make a whole lot of sense when the truth was revealed at the end of the first installment, and it makes even less sense now. There could be some metaphor embedded in the convolutions that WCKD went through in order to find its cure, but the film isn’t at all interested in exploring the subtext.
Its main concern is providing spectacle, which it does to some extent. More than once, characters are forced into making a daring escape that involves either great heights, or some sort of giant machine. Those are the entertaining moments of the movie. For the most part, though, the film is stuck playing out some tame bits of inert gunplay, the adversaries of the protagonist never shown to be capable enough to truly to be threatening in any of these sequences. The movie ends up settling on wide scale destruction as a means of expressing its blockbuster bona fides, but that gets old pretty quick.
It just isn’t very interesting. There’s plenty to look at, but little to focus on. The characters feel less compelling than they were when they were in the maze. There’s so little tension between them now, and their emotional dilemmas feel unimportant. The real story here actually belongs to the grownups, but the film isn’t interested enough in them to make it matter. Dylan O’Brien has some measure of star presence, but he disappears in the genericness of his heroic role. Patricia Clarkson and Aidan Giller are similarly squandered in roles that have them playing a single note throughout the entire film.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure is just empty, rather wearying spectacle, closing out the series with little of the narrative momentum that fueled the first movie. This series really suffer the more it tries to answer questions, and every bit of story that it ends trying to tell feels needlessly contrived, its characters acting completely unreasonably in pursuit of creating some kind of plot that might serve as a platform for all the requisite pyrotechnics.
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.