Back for more post-apocalyptic fun, Thomas, played by Dylan O’Brien, discovers the existence of a mega city, owned and operated by the fiendish WCKD Corporation. When a rescue operation goes bad, his friend Minho, played by Ki Hong Lee, is sent to the city for further experimentation.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018) is the final chapter of the series back for more zombie-fueled screams and action-packed thrills. It follows Thomas, Newt, and Frypan who stand as the last remaining “Gladers” immune to the deadly Flare virus. It seems that for a while now, they and The Right Arm resistance force have conducted large-scale rescue operations in an attempt to save every child from the mazes.
Our group of would-be heroes journey to what is known as “The Last City” to rescue their friend, Minho. In typical WCKD style, the city has been surrounded by a massive wall – this time to keep out the zombie-like Cranks. This mission goes awry, however, when an uprising occurs and the wall is brought down.
The trilogy delivers with stunning visual effects. So real, in fact, it’s difficult to tell the difference between the practical and generated. We’re flung right into the action from the very beginning during a chase scene as Brenda and Jorge (played by Rosa Salazar and Giancarlo Esposito respectively) flee from a flyer loaded with WCKD operatives. They rain hell down onto Jorge’s jeep as dust and debris fling into the air from the laser-like bullets.
Another fine example is the dangling bus scene. To give it the credit it deserves, this paragraph will contain spoilers. In a desperate attempt to not only save Minho, but every child at the WCKD facility in Last City, a bus filled with children is loaded into the skyline via crane. It grazes against buildings as Frypan attempts to reel it in high out of the reach of WCKD soldiers. Developed with extraordinary precision by director Wes Ball we’re pulled right into the bus with the kids as it dangles high over the city. It’s a wild and unheard of scenario, but it works.
Speaking of Ball, he’s directed all three Maze Runner films. With a portfolio including the recent Star Trek films, Aliens in the Attic, and Cirque du Freak, he brings a much-needed sense of quirk to a heavy narrative. The humor and heart developed among these characters is what really pulls this film and its prequels together. The antics and overall bonds they form is integral to the story and plot. Ball pulls it off beautifully.
Throughout all of this, we get glimpses of the antagonist, Ava Paige, played by the stunning Patricia Clarkson. She struggles with the horrific acts she’s done in the name of science. Paige questions more than once if it was really worth it in the end. She’s accompanied by Teresa, played by Kaya Scodelario, the so-called “betrayer” of the Gladers and love interest of Thomas. She watches Minho suffer at the hands of her fellow scientists and begins to question everything just as Ava does.
Jansen, played by Game of Throne’s Aidan Gillen, has other intentions. Through a heart-to-heart with Ava, he recognizes that she has given up on the project. With this knowledge, he takes on the mantle of the sole WCKD employee who still has what it takes to find a cure, even if only a lucky handful will be saved. From this point forward, he’s hell-bent on capturing the remaining children and obtaining the one, true cure.
Although Ava is given a decent redemption arc, we never actually get to see her deliver on it. Instead, the tyrannical Jansen takes center stage in the third act. He is the ultimate foe and the last wall standing in Thomas’ way.
Hope abounds in the final chapter’s narrative. The resistance has almost saved every last survivor, and they plan to set off into the ocean so that WCKD will never harm them again. In the end, however, this is left open-ended and vague. The Flare virus is said to now be airborne. Even if WCKD never finds them, the virus may still reach their shores.
After a lengthy halt in filming due to on-set injury, O’Brien returns with a satisfactory performance as a sci-fi action hero. The Death Cure is a fantastic and exciting film, but O’Brien ultimately fails in the leading role. His emotions fall flat when they should be popping off the screen. Nothing really phases him, even as he sees his lover for the last time. The young actor certainly has what it takes to carry a film – he did a phenomenal job with the first two installments of the franchise – but ultimately failed here.
The final chapter in the Maze Runner trilogy earns a respectable:
7 Shots of Fandom Espresso
Out of 10
Quick Facts (from IMDB)
Director: Wes Ball
Writer: T.S. Nowlin
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Giancarlo Esposito
Running Time: 2h, 21m
IMAGE CREDIT: MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE – 20th Century Fox