By Jack Dignan
Every film has its fans. No matter how much you may despise something, or how little you’re able to tolerate even a single second of its atrocities, someone somewhere will look highly upon it. They’ll like it. Heck, they may even love it. The Maze Runner franchise has fans. The first film wasn’t even a critical flop. Majority of those fans derive in the Young Adult demographic, which is why I, a young adult, am puzzled by my lack of interest in this franchise. Perhaps it’s dystopian YA fatigue. In fact, it very much is dystopian YA fatigue. But still, the film has fans. And for fans, no matter what my opinion is here, they’re more than likely going to enjoy this conclusion.
I don’t really remember what happened in the first two Maze Runner movies. Select plot elements remain, but for the most part, there’s nothing, especially when it comes to the second installment, The Scorch Trials. But when going into Maze Runner: The Death Cure, it doesn’t take long to figure out where things have been and where they’re headed. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) is on the run, attempting to flee from the evil company WCKD, who first put him in the maze all those years ago. But things go askew when Thomas and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) must infiltrate the head building of WCKD to save their friends and escape a hoard of bloodthirsty zombies.
I will be honest; I’d completely forgotten this franchise had turned into a zombie-action-thriller until the first one appeared on screen. What once started out as a promising franchise that attempts to do something different with what would otherwise be a generic dystopian adventure has plummeted embarrassingly far down the rabbit hole and lost all that made the original work. Sure, that film isn’t great, but at least it was trying. Made Runner: The Death Cure is all paint by numbers. There’s nothing new or exciting on offer here, despite fleeting unfulfilled promises of what could’ve been a much darker, emotionally impactful movie.
The action set pieces offer the occasional moment of fun, but it’s all a bunch of loud noise with very few memorable moments. When we finally get to the actual infiltration of the company, a sequence that sadly only lasts about five minutes, The Death Cure peaks. Despite its many, many, many familiarities to almost every other movie within this genre, I had fun with the Mission: Impossible meets Oceans Eleven-esque sequence. Sure, literally everything that happens in it makes absolutely no sense and contradicts itself about seventeen times, with characters just magically getting through zones they specifically state can’t be gotten through, but it’s a standout moment.
As for the story that goes with it… well… it’s bad. Like, seriously bad. This feels as if it were written by a twelve year old making their very first movie whose only exposure with dialogue comes from b-grade action flicks they find on YouTube. All attempts at humour feel out of place and as if the actors are trying way too hard. These actors, for the most part, are not bad. They’ve done great stuff before, but here, wow, they’re not good. It may be a simple case of ‘we can’t get these lines to sound natural,’ but even then, the delivery is almost as if nobody’s trying. Aiden Gillen at least makes an effort, but he has very little to work with, and then a nose-less Walter Goggins shows up for all of two minutes and I was very confused.
However, the worst thing this film did is something that was entirely out of its control. It’s released about three years too late. Nobody gives a shit anymore. Even the first Maze Runner arrived at a time where these movies were slowly losing steam in a post-Hunger Games world where all attempts at replicating its success have fallen short. Sadly, this film was scheduled for a release early last year (which, even then, was too late), but after Dylan O’Brien sustained injuries on set, the film was postponed. But that doesn’t save the fact that this trilogy just should’ve have been finished. At least Divergent had the decency to cancel its final installment.
I never thought I’d miss being in the world of the first Maze Runner, but I do. While the franchise at least kept the final installment as a single movie and didn’t split it into two, maybe it should have. The film already clocks in at two and a half hours so perhaps, if they were to just release two films of 75 minutes each, they’d be at least somewhat merciful. I could’ve been in home, in bed, sleeping away the memory of what I’d just watched an hour and fifteen minutes sooner.
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