Maze Runner: The Death Cure (3 stars)

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

The final part of the YA adventure delivers action aplenty and a fairly satisfying end to the story

When the history of YA adaptations is written, nestled somewhere between the might of the Hunger Games franchise and the misadventure of the Divergent films you'll find the Maze Runner trilogy. Arriving later than planned after an on-set accident left star Dylan O'Brien with substantial injuries, unlike its peers, the events of the final book are mercifully condensed into one, long (though just shy of slog-like) movie.

Director Wes Ball makes it a complete set and his ability to deliver punchy action and the occasional jolting jump-scare frightens some life into a predictable, albeit reasonably satisfying story. Set six months after The Scorch Trials, O'Brien's absurdly gung-ho Thomas is determined to rescue his fellow Glader, Minho (Ki Hong Lee), from the clutches of WCKD who are still looking to thwart the deadly Flare virus by performing tests on those discovered to be immune.

By his side through numerous rash decisions is Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), meanwhile Aidan Gillen returns as hissible WCKD operative Janson and a wasted Walton Goggins is the most significant newbie, playing disfigured resistance leader Lawrence. In case the treacherous Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) isn't sufficiently redeemable – she led WCKD to them last time round – there's a back-up love interest for Thomas in Brenda (Rosa Salazar, trying a bit too hard).

If there are a few too many logical leaps (the supposedly impenetrable city that's a doddle to break into, for instance), there's little in the way of filler. The series once again asks, 'At what price survival?', although in a slightly more engaged way this time round, as Teresa is revealed to be hard at work on a cure and even villainous boffin Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) shows us the woman behind the wickedness. Whatever their dastardly methods, the pair see the bigger, humanity-threatening picture, whereas Thomas focuses exclusively on his friends.

The simplicity of Thomas's character is what stops these movies from ever getting off the ground emotionally; his heroism is instinctive whereas Teresa's decisions are visibly agonised over, however morally questionable. Unlike the Hunger Games's conflicted protagonist Katniss, Thomas has been written with minimal depth, making him miles less interesting than both women, despite the efforts of O'Brien.

Regardless, it feels like the story has come a long way from the mazes, which are revisited briefly if only to leave you with the impression that they were a spectacular waste of time. And so the series ends: with a film that's good enough, but no better.

General release from Fri 26 Jan.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

  • 3 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 1h 42min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Wes Ball
  • Cast: Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Walton Goggins, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Will Poulter, Patricia Clarkson
  • UK release: 26 January 2018

The final part of the trilogy sees Thomas (O’Brien) determined to rescue his fellow glader Minho (Lee) from the clutches of WCKD. Thomas is, as usual, the dead weight that stops these movies from taking off, while the treacherous but conflicted Teresa (Scodelario) is far more interesting. A so-so series winds to its so-so…

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