In the latest in a long string of young adult dystopian films to hit the big screen, The Maze Runner trilogy concludes with its finale, The Death Cure. Critics have been harsh; after the immune youths escape the eponymous maze built to study what made them different, the series loses its initial draw. The film does capitalise on excellent performances in previous movies however, such as Thomas Brodie-Sangster’s take on Newt and Kaya Scoldelario’s flawless American accent in her role as Theresa.
The cinematography and settings are stunning: from a rustic American desert to a harbour full of sinking ships. The mysterious maze may been the inital draw, yet the imaginative side of the series arguably comes out more in this final film, with a fully formed post-apocalyptic world. The haughty walls of the maze are nowhere near as striking as the walled ‘last city’ where WCKD keeps its headquarters.
Minho (Ki Hong Lee) is still held in WCKD’s captivity so they can run him through different constructed scenarios to discover what it is that makes him immune. During Thomas’s (Dylan O’Brien) attempt to save Minho he has to navigate the late-stage infected ‘cranks’ and rebels who inhabit the now excised outskirts of the last city. One shot in particular which pans over the city, forces a profound comparison between the high-tech, fascist security city-state city and the rest, lit only by fires in the rubble.
At its core, The Maze Runner trilogy is known for its twists and turns, made possible by the bigger plot behind the maze: the dystopian, zombie-like disease that necessitated sacrifices in the name of science and the future of humanity. Although the surprising endings weren’t sustainable once the context was made clear at the end of The Scorch Trials, the main driving force behind the movie reaches its apex in The Death Cure as forces clash in the battle to save humanity.
Negotiating the right young-adult tone whilst seriously grappling with ethical dilemmas over scientific experimentation, authoritarianism, and anarchy is a tall order for one film, but The Death Cure does it with flying colours. The world building and attention to detail, particularly with the settings and cinematography, heighten the tension and make lofty questions seem suddenly prudent.
It may not have been what young fans were looking for, but The Death Cure fits a lot of romance, a lot of dystopia and a lot of action into a finale that most certainly raises more questions about humanity than it answers about the series.
Film reviewed at Cineworld, Edinburgh.
Image: Twentieth Century Fox