Maze Runner reaches a dead end
MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE (M)
Director: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aiden Gillen
Verdict: Deathly dull teen action, for fans only
TALK about diminishing returns. The first Maze Runner movie had an intriguing premise: young people trapped in a futuristic labyrinth with no memory of how they got there, trying to avoid the monsters and find a way out.
The film's punchline revealed that they were laboratory rats of a sort - "immunes" whose stressful experiences in the maze where part of an experiment to find a cure to a global epidemic.
This promising beginning gave way to an aimless sequel in which a group of the germ-resistant teens led by Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) decided that their former captors' intentions were not entirely altruistic - perhaps the organisation's acronym, WCKD, tipped them off - and joined forces with resistance fighters living among the crumbling buildings of a devastated planet.
This third and final chapter has Thomas and his friends going in search of The Last City, a hi-tech walled metropolis (think Camelot with skyscrapers) where two of their friends are being held. Minho (Ki Hong Lee) is being experimented on by Ava (Patricia Clarkson), while Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) has betrayed Thomas and thrown in her lot with Ava and the slimy Janson (Aiden Gillen), believing they can find the cure to the zombie plague.
Did I forget to mention the zombies? This convoluted trilogy wants to be both The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games, so we get the undead as well as Orwellian tyranny. In The Death Cure, a horribly scarred revolutionary called Lawrence (Walton Goggins) wants to strike a blow for the common people, and a popular uprising right in the middle of a zombie apocalypse proves just as pointless a mess as it sounds.
The films are based on novels for young adults, though the plotting here is more preadolescent. It's a movie where paper thin characters are endlessly running down corridors, busting in, breaking out, rescuing each other in the nick of time, and doing anything but develop in any meaningful direction. All anybody learns, in fact, is how much they really, really like the bland hero.
Forget lab rats: this kind of experimentation on audiences is inhuman.