Director: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Will Poulter, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Aidan Gillen, Giancarlo Esposito, Thomas Brodie-Sangster. UK. 2h 22m
I’m a big sucker for well planned trilogies, but if I don’t feel there’s much going for them, like the Matrix, I’ll only watch the first and last. Generally the 2nd movie is just fluffy filler, something to make the fans ever eager for the penultimate showdown. I like to see the set up and close down and I feel that I’ve not missed anything by skipping straight to the final chapter here. At last we all get some closure to a franchise that has a curious beginning, the ending won’t be much of a payoff.
There’s a charming Mad Max theme to the intro, Barry Pepper drives one of several beat up cars through a desert to help rescue some kids from a train. Obviously there’s some other gumph that happened in between but to be honest I, at least, felt that it’s something you can pick up without little background knowledge. It’s pretty easy to see that in this dystopian future a disease has caused a massive divide in the population and has caused a few brilliant scientists to experiment on youngsters. The title gives away the rest of the film.
Thomas (Obrien) and Newt (Sangster), the last of the free Gladers, lead a group of brave individuals who want to desperately put an end to this madness and save the world. Along the way they aim to rescue captured comrades, but it all hinges on breaching legendary Last City run by the WCKD Empire. This final run, turns out to be the biggest maze of all and a fairly fitting ending to the epic battle against a ruthless and oppressive system.
After the desert heist the film takes a strange turn as the boys begin their journey ever closer to the Last City. Director Wes Ball fails to generate any emotional resonance, but there’s plenty of exciting action sequences to keep the younger fans tipping off their seats. There are some really interesting bad guys to contend with, it’s about this time that the young folk realise that the real monsters are the people behind Grivers. While the face of Lawrence (Goggins) might scare some of the kiddies he’s genuinely a really cool CGI enhanced noseless ghoul, but he’s really helpful, with a whole militia behind him and has an uncanny knack to open city gates, but it’s the manical brilliance of Aiden Gillen that makes him the baddest creature in the city as he plays a cold hearted henchman Janson, a cruel individual with a desperate reason to protect his beloved city and a sadistic nature to kill and mame.
For it’s lengthy running time, Maze Runner loses touch with it’s narrative early on and the interplay between characters erodes quickly for the lights of the bright city. After all the “bad guys” have been stripped of their evil personas, the once ultimately powerful Ava Paige (Clarkson) is a watery pushover who is now totally fixated on her failures and allows Janson to take over the party.
The kids do what they do best, exerting a ton of energy running around creating havoc in a new highly cgi city where no one but security personnel interfere with their carefully hatched plans. But a few flashy action scenes, an explosion or two and some one liners from Will Poulter doesn’t make this the ultimate underdog rising movie, a lot more could have been done to make the audience want to feel something for the characters and their fight, but I don’t think I thought for one moment that they weren’t going to make it and it feels that way, just another job. Fun to watch though but easily forgotten, apart from the city scenes of people wandering around with face masks, very aprt for 2020/2021.
Related: Maze Runner (2014), Maze Runner Scorch Trails (2015)
Lists: 10 Amazing Trilogies