Film Review: Maze Runner: The Death Cure

By Will Duggan

In this final installment of the Maze Runner trilogy, Maze Runner: The Death Cure impresses with visuals, action sequences and amazing performances from its cast. However, the film stays consistent in the same level of dialogue as well as an uneven balance of the plot, which keeps it at the edge of being the most unique film in the series.

This film focuses on the titular hero Thomas and his group of escaped Gladers as they take on a dangerous mission to save their friend, Minho, who has been captured by the malevolent organization WCKD in a highly secured location known as the Last City.

This world was made believable by the full effort of its actors, excelling in both their emotional and physical performances. They made every exchange in conversation to every run, jump and punch feel truly visceral. One standout of these characters was Dylan O’Brien’s portrayal of Thomas, who reflected Thomas’s leadership, stubbornness, quick-thinking and selflessness expertly. O’Brien showed how Thomas is a flawed character that makes mistakes in his actions and has to deal with the consequences. O’Brien nailed the physicality of the character, making his action sequences believable and at times extremely intense. After O’Brien suffered a serious head injury during a stunt for this film back in April 2016, the film was put on hold for O’Brien to heal. It was amazing to see O’Brien back in production and resume the main role; his effort and care for the film are definitely noticeable on the big screen.

 Photo from empireonline.com

Photo from empireonline.com

There were other spectacular standouts as well. Thomas Brodie-Sangster, commonly known for his role in Love Actually and the hit TV show, Game of Thrones, returns as Thomas’s friend, Newt. Sangster’s role as Newt goes through a gradual development in character as the plot continues. Sangster perfectly highlights Newt’s trustworthiness, cooperation and bravery through this last installment. Dexter Darden’s role as Frypan was more significant in this film than the previous two movies. Darden’s dedication to his character’s overall progression and to the character’s physical actions under pressure balance out well as the film progresses. Kaya Scodelario plays Teresa in a very complex way. Throughout the film, viewers are against some of her moral values but also see the reasoning behind the actions based on those values, as well as her need to stick to what she believes is right for the world. However, she still is uncertain in the extreme measures taken to save the world. Each actor seemed to give their complete attention to their characters. Ki Hong Lee (as Minho), Giancarlo Esposito (as Jorge) and Rosa Salazar (as Brenda) stuck to their characters, never seeming to be phoning it in for the paycheck.

One of the main antagonists of the film, Janson, played by Game of Thrones actor, Aidan Gilllen, is masterfully done with his disdain, wit and anger, which is completely tangible on screen. Patricia Clarkson’s role as the main villain, Ava Paige, was done well, but Clarkson deserved to be given more material to add more of a sympathetic and complex side of her character, rather than just finding a cure by any means.

Other flaws in this film included the dialogue with some of the lines feeling dull and not truly showing the character’s direction. The dialogue needs to give more time to focus on the character’s development rather than to move the characters from one destination to the next. The choppy dialogue resulted in an uneven pace to the plot. The plot would rush to the climax of the story and then fade a little as it would get to the top. This uneven plot left the rest of the film wondering if something was going to happen between characters or if some plot device was going to appear for the story to suddenly move more rapidly.

Fortunately, even though the film may lack in dialogue and plot progression, the direction by Wes Ball is nicely seen. Ball knows how to lead intense action sequences that come across as believable, leaving viewers dumbfounded as to how real and detailed they are. The special effects left me amazed, as this fictional city was crafted to feel “real” with lived-in yet still high-class citizens. It was fit with symmetrically-shaped futuristic skyscrapers in contrast with the showing of barely-surviving slums.

This film might not be a complete hit as the dialogue is underdeveloped causing the plot to progress gradually and showing the main antagonist’s true direction. However, the committed focus given by the film’s actors, the outstanding special effects and the needed direction to tie up each character’s story make this last film seem better than the previous two in the trilogy. This is one final installment of a dystopian film series that is actually the most enjoyable. That is why Maze Runner: Death Cure deserves the grade of a B-.

Marist