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Maze Runner: The Death Cure is the third and final film in the Maze Runner series, based on the YA dystopian science-fiction book series by James Dashner. It takes place in a world where most of the population has been killed by a plague which, it is thought, can only be cured using antibodies harvested from immune teenagers.
2014’s The Maze Runner, was about a group of teenagers trying to escape from a deadly maze. The second film, 2015’s The Scorch Trials, explored more of the world as the kids continued to try to escape from WCKD, the organization that was trying to control them. The Death Cure sees the final battle between the rebels and their oppressors and ties up all of the loose ends left in the series.
The film begins with protagonist Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his friends Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Frypan (Dexter Darden), Brenda (Rosa Salazar) and Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) trying to rescue Minho (Ki Hong Lee), who was captured by WCKD enforcer Janson (Aidan Gillen) at the end of the last film. Their rescue attempt does not turn out as they had hoped, leading them on a mission to infiltrate the city and, potentially, a confrontation with their former ally Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and the head of WCKD, Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson).
The overall story is okay. It has an intriguing setup, before quickly becoming derivative of other YA series. But the films have been able to succeed because they have been very impressively made.
The production design, including some of the bigger sets (specifically, the maze in the first one and the city in this one), is pretty great, as are the visual effects. And the action is really well staged. The entire Maze Runner series is one of the better examples in recent memory of films that were completely carried by their production. If these stories were not adapted with this much care and expertise, there is no way they would have been nearly as good.
Though The Death Cure runs just over two hours and twenty minutes and its story is not always the most enthralling, director Wes Ball (the director of all three Maze Runner films) keeps things exciting enough with the action. In this instance, he opens with a rescue attempt on a train that both fittingly follows up the ending of the last movie and perfectly sets up the tone and story for this installment. It is fast paced, easy to follow, does an excellent job reintroducing the characters and puts the final plot in motion. It is very well executed. Viewers may have seen sequences like this before, but when it is done this well that does not matter.
The whole movie (and most of the series) is like that. These are the only feature films Ball has made, but they will work as a great calling card for his talent. He has now proven he can do action, he knows how to pace a story and he either has a great eye for design or is good working with those who do.
The Death Cure is a good capper to the Maze Runner franchise. It pays off the majority of the threads setup throughout the first two films, features a couple of surprises and a reasonably satisfying conclusion. I have not read the books, but this story does not seem like it would have survived subpar filmmaking. Thankfully for fans of the books and movies, it did not have to.
By Ben Pivoz
Ben’s Movie Reviews
Check out Ben’s last movie review on Den of Thieves.