Review: Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)

Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)

Directed by: Wes Ball | 142 minutes | action, science fiction | Actors: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Will Poulter, Jacob Lofland, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson, Aidan Gillen, Barry Pepper, Nathalie Emmanuel, Katherine McNamara, Walton Goggins, Dylan Smith

The beginning was strong. ‘The Maze Runner’, which tells the story of a group of young people who had inexplicably been brought together in a seemingly endless labyrinth, was also constructed as a maze in itself. The spectator, together with main character Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), was dropped in the middle of the maze, occasionally sent into a dead end to finally move in the direction of the exit. As a result, tension and involvement were high.

Part two, ‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’, was more linear in nature. This was at the expense of tension and surprise. However, the film, aided by the cinematography of director Wes Ball and his associates, provided enough entertainment to be somewhat entertaining. The end of the cycle, ‘The Death Cure’ should determine how ‘Maze Runner’ will actually go down in history.

‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ gets off to a great start once again, in a nice way. The rebel team, which Thomas has joined, has come up with a plan to help one of them escape from the clutches of opponent Wicked. The action immediately brings the viewer into the story. En passant, the struggle that ensues gives a good overview of how the parties are divided. This is a welcome reminder for those who don’t have the previous parts quite right on their mind.

The escape plan only partially works. The rebels manage to free a group of allies, but the boy they come for is not among them. The only option left to relieve their companion is to invade Wicked’s home base. After all the effort they’ve gone to breaking out of the maze, there’s no other option now to break into a similar fortress. Strangely enough, this works without too much effort. The hardships of the maze remain largely at a distance here. Just like in its predecessor, that closed linearity can’t prevent ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ from losing tension.

In addition, the tension that is there feels less organic and therefore made. The same goes for the apparently unavoidable emotions in the closing scenes. It seems as if director Ball had to stick to the denouement from the book series of the same name. That is not only avenged in the story, but also visually the film is slightly less sparkling than its predecessors. The apocalyptic Mad Max environment is full of details, but also a bit lifeless at the same time.

With the disappearing tension and the additional increasing predictability, it is striking how uninteresting main character Thomas actually is. His backstory is minimal. The dilemmas he has to deal with are quite one-dimensional. His story is that of everyone else. And, performer Dylan O’Brien is not very charismatic compared to his female counterparts in other Young Adult films. It does little good for personal involvement.

All in all, that is a disappointment after the first film of the Maze Runner cycle, which managed to distinguish itself so well from its genre peers. The freedom that characterized that part is reduced to a minimum after two sequels. What remains is an entertaining, but above all perfunctory film series.

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