Maze Runner : The Death Cure is the final installment in the Maze Runner series and after on set accidents, the collapse of similar dystopian YA series like 5th Wave, Divergent and Hunger Games, it was unclear if there would ever be a finale for this much loved series. Fortunately though after a lengthy delay, it seems that the wait was worth it , with the finale delivering an explosive and exciting conclusion for a series that didn’t wear out its welcome.
This movie completely took me by surprise, it has been three long years since The Scorch Trials and after an on set accident with the leading actor Dylan O’Brien I was very surprised that the film was completed. Not bothering to rewatch the last two films before leaping into the finale (something that proved to be a mistake later on when I realised my plus one hadn’t seen either films!) the film gives no love to those who have not seen the previous ones jumping right into the action in Death Cure gives no room to breathe. Jumping straight into a train rescue where Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) , Frypan (Dexter Daren) have teamed up with outlaws Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito), Brenda (Rosa Salazar) and Vince (Barry Pepper) to free captured friend Minho (Ki Hong Lee). It is a daring and heart pounding sequence with a little hint of confusion as you are reminded of who these characters are and why they are doing this.
The rescue is a bit of a bust and Thomas and Newt must brave their way through the zombie ridden wastelands to WCKD headquarters and rescue Minho. The first two films were a continuous chase sequence barrelling forward from one scene to the next, this film takes a bit of step back and in between the action lets us have a look into these characters and helps appreciate why we have such a strong connection with them and this franchise. It is particularly noteable as this is the end of the series (or is it?? #nospoilers) that reflection on these characters, why we love them and our hopes for them moving forward is addressed several times during this movie. The balance between story, character reflection and action is extremely well balanced and is a credit to director Wes Ball.
The talented young cast do a phenomenal job and are part and parcel as to why this whole series has worked and continued to flow on so well. There are flecks of humour injected in the last half of the film that provided a lot of laugh out loud moments when things were looking really bleak and getting a bit too serious. The humour was subtle and nothing too splap-stick which works so well in a film like this trying to convey the “end of the world-zombie” scenario.
The film was shot in South Africa and the jaw droppingly beautiful scenery and sets are a sight to behold. I was constantly dazzled by how Australian a tree looked and the magnificent sea-scape that was too beautiful to be green screen effects. The contrast between this and the walled out abandoned city plays well on screen with the dark and dingy tunnels contributing to the apocalyptic Mad Max feel.
One of my favourite things about the movie is the big climactic action scene at the end, there are hundreds of outsiders stampeding the city throwing molotov cocktails and explosions, while it would have been the trope to have a few scenes focusing on this and dragging it out, Ball decides to focus in on the small escape being undertaken by Thomas and crew with the explosions and action placed in the background. It is actually quite beautiful to watch and a surprise for a series like this to be brave and take this route.
Overall this film delivers a surprisingly good time, the performances, action scenes and story are so wonderfully woven together that they work perfectly with each other and help solidify the end of the series with a satisfying ending that will please fans of the series. It is a shame that we had to wait so long to see this but it would appear that the time taken allowed for the film to be tweaked to near perfection and Death Cure delivers the surprisingly great January movie of 2018.
Maze Runner : The Death Cure is playing in cinemas now.
Review by Alaisdair Leith