The young adult adaptation genre may have run its course a years ago, but that hasn’t stopped The Maze Runner saga from attempting to revitalize the flatline the genre has undergone.
The Maze Runner series, written by James Dashner, is a victim of timing. It is a story of a chosen one fighting back against an oppressive dystopia. Yes, that formula is as cliche as you can get, which is why the writing and characters/acting need to be great in order to stand out.
Thankfully, the writing throughout the series (movies & books) has stood out because it puts characters through thrilling and unpredictable situations and always maintains the threat level. Dylan O’Brien, who leads the series, has personally elevated this adapted material above where it could easily fall.
The Death Cure, the third and final movie, immediately starts with action and barely stops to catch its breath. Thomas and his group spend the movie trying to rescue those who were captured or lured by WCKD, headed by Ava (Patricia Clarkson) and Janson (Aiden Gillen). Each event leads the small group of resistance fighters to the last stronghold of the seemingly evil government.
Does this siege on the capital sound at all familiar to the final Hunger Games movies? Of course it does. However, it’s far better because the hero isn’t passive about anything, many characters have more than one dimension to them, and it’s only one movie instead of being cut into two movies composed of filler.
There’s actually so much packed into The Death Cure (the run time boasts over 2 hours 20 minutes), that it’s almost too much in one movie. Once it hits 90 minutes, every action scene feels like a climactic battle. Yet, they keep one-upping themselves. Unless you’re an action junkie or a typical dad who loves action and nothing more, you may get tired of so many ‘splosions.
O’Brien once against adds immediate credibility to the project. Sadly, Clarkson looks a little lost as if she’s not sure if her villainous character is meant to be conniving or have a change of heart. Outside of O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Will Poulter are consistently good and better than what the movie has to offer.
Unless you view The Death Cure as an action movie and nothing more, it can’t stand on its own. From the very beginning there is no background about what has happened so far. The exposition tries its best to summarize the big reason for this very complicated saga, but takes several shortcuts in order to help the audience gloss over any plotholes.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure helps the series go two for three (In my opinion, the second movie was a waste). It’s an above average YA adaptation that is far too long, but manages to close out this series in a satisfying way. I can’t say that about Hunger Games, Twilight, or even Harry Potter. B-