In the last decade, dystopian teen fiction has been all the rage. Whether it’s The Hunger Games, Divergent, or the most recent to be made into a film series, The Maze Runner, audiences seem to find lots to relate to in this genre. All involve an authority in the not too distant future that is violently oppressing its citizens with its power and must be overcome. The Maze Runner series is unique, however, in the way that it presents its characters and in the way their story unfolds. Rather than the plot being based upon a societal change that all of the characters must adhere to as in the The Hunger Games and Divergent series, the teenagers in The Maze Runner have absolutely no choice in the matter. They have their memories wiped clean, and are placed in a maze compound that they must escape in order to survive. The evil corporation WCKD is the entity that has placed them there in order to monitor an experiment on them with the purpose of finding a cure to a vegetative disease that has ravaged the world. In a fresh break from the previously mentioned series, in both the film and novel versions of The Maze Runner series the characters must survive and seek justice all by themselves, finding very little help from adults or authority figures.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure is the final instalment in the film adaptations of James Dashner’s book series, following Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015) and The Maze Runner (2014) before that. It suffered a severe delay in production due to star Dylan O’Brien breaking his leg midway through.
The Death Cure begins by establishing the sheer barren landscape that our story is set in. This is something it carries along well from the setting of the previous films. We see a single, dilapidated vehicle speeding across this landscape towards an electrifying rescue of some of WCKD’s test subjects from a train. This opening sequence sets in motion a visually and internally electrifying narrative that does not let up until the film’s climax and the series’ ultimate resolution. In other words, the tone of the film is set perfectly.
From that moment on in the film, the pacing is very well executed. Each action the characters take is motivated by their ongoing struggle and their desire to vanquish the ones who have caused it. Death Cure’s director, Wes Ball, directed the first two films in the series, and just like in those films, the action sequences and tense dialogue are masterfully done, so much so that it is difficult as an audience member to avoid feeling the same tension and motivation as the characters. Halfway through the film, there is a shot during an escape sequence that is breathtaking. The characters are forced to jump from the window of a tall building, and Ball’s choice to have the camera follow them out the window and nearly to the ground is absolutely heart-stopping.
As the characters work to invade WCKD’s compound, save their friends, and end the chaos once and for all, the cast, acting, and script are all sincerely well done and well used. It would seem that the film was better off for its delay, as the narrative of the film was very completely fleshed out, and the overall quality of this film was slightly above the others in the series. The delay reflected on the film in that it seems the director and producers were able to fully ensure they had a high quality, fully realised film before the release date. Another reflection of this extra time seems to be the soundtrack. The score for Death Cure is not only multifaceted and well written, but it is extremely well nuanced to the exact moments on screen. This is something I think enhances the delicate and exciting emotions of the film’s narrative.
I must suggest you watch the first two films in the series in order to know the intricacies of what is happening in this final entry. The film does suffer just a bit structurally, and at times might seem like it lacks direction if you’re not up to date with the series’ story. If you are a bigger fan of the book series than the films, I will say that this film does not entirely adhere to the plot of the book. It does, however, provide a gripping and satisfying end for fans of the overall plot and of the film adaptation series. The Death Cure film and the entire Maze Runner film series are served so well by their respective continuity and a quality handling of the complex story that they aim to tell. If you are a fan of these films, The Death Cure is a wicked end you’ve got to witness. If you’re not well-versed in Maze Runner film lore, the film series is well worth exploring and experiencing. As you find your way out of the maze, or in other words from the beginning until the conclusion of the series, you’re likely to experience a truly unique and triumphant thrill.