Maze Runner: The Death Cure

January 26, 2018

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

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Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Rosa Salazar, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Walton Goggins, Katherine McNamara, Aidan Gillen, Nathalie Emmanuel, Will Poulter, Patricia Clarkson, Giancarlo Esposito, Barry Pepper

Director: Wes Ball

Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language, and some thematic elements

Running Time: 2 hours, 22 minutes

 

BY DAN LYABARGER

blood, dirt & angels

Having never read James Dashner’s Maze Runner series, I have no idea if he’s able to tell stories for teens that have something to teach adults. But the movies are saddled with thin characters and lifeless plots supported by occasionally breathtaking action scenes.


Thankfully, Maze Runner: The Death Cure begins with a pulse-pounding chase involving a train and some impressive fantasy air craft. Outlaws Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and Vince (Barry Pepper) are trying to rescue their friend Minho (Ki Hong Lee) before he becomes a lab rat in the city. In the outlands, some mysterious infection is causing people to turn into zombies, and Minho’s blood offers a possible cure.

Actually, there are more than a few people whose immune systems prevent them from turning into guest stars on The Walking Dead, but the filmmakers don’t figure that out until later. There’s something annoying about a movie that makes the audience feel as if they’re dues-paying members of a psychics club.

In the meantime, Thomas, Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Brenda (Rosa Salazar) and Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) try to break into the city when the chase fails to free Minho. As the beer commercials used to say, “Why ask why?”

It has been four years since the first The Maze Runner, and it seems like an eternity. Actors who could pass for teens then now look ready to take out a second mortgage on their dystopian ruins. O’Brien was injured during the shooting, and the delay seems evident throughout the footage. It doesn’t help that the actors carry on as if puberty hasn’t ended. In addition, the storyline depends on characters either seeking revenge on past wrongs or putting differences behind them. It takes a while to remember why people dislike one another and once the dispute returns to memory, indifference sets in.

While the landscapes create the illusion of a world that has endured
an apocalyptic shock, the people who populate it aren’t that interesting. It’s hard to get worked up over the fate of Minho if his only emotion seems to be anger at being a human guinea pig. Then again, his situation is inherently sympathetic, but the filmmakers are curiously unable to make the audience care about his fate. It might be easier to care about what happens to an actual guinea pig.

The supporting cast is loaded with terrific character actors like Pepper, Esposito, Patricia Clarkson and Walton Goggins who do their best with characters that aren’t terribly dynamic. Seeing their familiar faces (or in the case of Goggins, his familiar visage buried under prosthetic scars) only reminds of the better roles they’ve had.


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