Maze Runner: The Death Cure is the third and final film in the Maze Runner trilogy. Based on the popular young adult books by author James Dashner, the Maze Runner series follows a group of teenagers who are forced to participate in various grueling “trials”, all in a hope to find the cure for a deadly disease. Before we get into the specifics of the film, it’s important to note that this review will contain light spoilers for the previous two Maze Runner films, so if you haven’t seen those yet, you might want to watch them first. The first two films were received with positive to neutral reaction, so fans are hoping the third film is a grand slam. That being said, let’s see if the Maze Runner: Death Cure wraps up this YA trilogy properly.
Director Wes Ball’s talent has steadily grown since the first film in the series, The Maze Runner. While the first film remains my favorite, it’s hard to deny how much Ball has refined his craft over this series. Maze Runner: The Death Cure, is the best directed and most visually appealing film in the series thus far, but it’s not without its faults. That being said, Wes Ball has managed to create some truly exciting action scenes, formulate emotional and resonating scenes, and wrap up the story in a digestible and satisfying way. In regard to young adult book adaptations, these kinds of qualities are rarely expected. I have to commend Wes Ball (and the rest of the cast and crew), as the Maze Runner trilogy will be remembered as one of the most consistent adaptations in the genre.
The film centers once again on Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), as he attempts to rescue his friends from the militant company, WCKD. WCKD has been submitting teenagers to harsh conditions and emotional distress, in an attempt to formulate a cure for a disease that has ravaged the planet. The Death Cure marks the beginning of the end, as Thomas and company begin their final assault on WCKD’s home base of operations. The film starts off with an excellent train robbery scene, but eventually slows down from there. The plot is a mixture of revelations on the overall plot, character danger, explosive action scenes, and tough character decisions. Unfortunately, the pacing can get a bit slow, and several scenes feel like they should’ve been cut. Running at stagger two and a half hours, Maze Runner: The Death Cure has a habit of overstaying its welcome, especially in regards to the bloated second act and drawn out ending.
Despite the pacing issues, I was pleasantly surprised with The Death Cure. Although book fans will ultimately be annoyed with some of the key changes from the book, fans of the film series will find its conclusion to be a worthy (albeit cliché) send off. Great performances from the cast do wonders for dialogue-heavy scenes. Thomas Brodie-Sangster once again impresses in the role of Newt, who always remains by Thomas’ side when needed. Ki Hong Lee maintains his excellent portrayal of Minho, an early fan favorite. Giancarlo Esposito (of Breaking Bad fame) is the best of the bunch in relation to the adult roles, playing the rugged and hardened Jorge. Usually found by his side is Brenda (Rosa Salazar), another consistently interesting character. However, the star of the show is Dylan O’Brien. I was initially impressed with his performance in the first film. I had heard little about the actor, and after watching him in this trilogy, I am fully convinced he will become a huge name in the next few years. If anything, Dylan O’Brien is the glue that holds the Maze Runner series together. His performances are not only consistently entertaining and charged with believable emotion, and you can tell his level of passion and care for the art form just by watching.
Altogether, Maze Runner: The Death Cure is an enjoyable film, but on the assumption that you have seen the previous two films and enjoyed those as well. It’s a trilogy that won’t be for everyone, but it’s quality is impressive for a young adult book adaptation. At its worst, The Death Cure can be boring, slow paced, and frustrating for fans who were hoping for an ending closer to the books. At its best, the film is an adrenaline-filled action movie with some believable characters and honest performances. In fact, it might even draw a tear from your eye.
I went into Maze Runner: The Death Cure expecting to be disappointed. I left the theater with mixed feelings, but many of those were positive. Some viewers may find it boring, melodramatic, and even unbelievable. But for fans of the book series and those who enjoyed the previous two movies, Maze Runner: The Death Cure manages to create a serviceable ending to the trilogy. Sure, there’s a few blemishes, but I still found myself enjoying the film far more than I would’ve expected to.
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars