‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ Is an Action-Packed Ride

In an age where average people are regularly taking to the street to protest, the protagonists of “Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” although they are inhabitants of a futuristic dystopian, aren’t that difficult to relate to. Victims of a corrupt organization that holds a host of young people captive in the name of science, hero Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his cohorts band together with a resistance group known as The Right Arm to make change once and for all. When we last saw Thomas in “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” he had vowed to take down WCKD, the organization responsible for inflicting so much misery, with help from his fellow Gladers (survivors of the maze) and The Right Arm. The group also aims to find the cure for the Flare, a virus that has either killed most of those afflicted or turned them into zombie-like creatures called Cranks. WCKD claims to have the same goal, despite their use of forced human experimentation on the Gladers and other young people who have been proven to be immune to the Flare.

The film opens with an epic action sequence during which Thomas, Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Frypan (Dexter Darden) and Brenda (Rosa Salazar) manage to rescue a train full of people from the WCKD’s clutches. Unfortunately, they are unable to save a train car carrying Minho (Ki Hong Lee). Thomas, a loyal friend if there ever was one, risks it all when he decides to lead a mission to infiltrate WCKD and save his fellow Glader. To do this, he must break through the wall to get into the Last City, an enclosed metropolis that is home to the privileged population who has thus far escaped the Flare.

Complicating the situation for Thomas is Teresa (Kaye Scodelario), a young WCKD scientist and former love interest of Thomas’ who betrayed him at the end of the last film. Teresa genuinely believes that WCKD is working towards the greater good, and she also seems to have true feelings for Thomas, which makes for some serious conflicted feelings here. Sadly, there’s missed opportunity here to really dig deep and explore her character and motives.

The “bad guys” of the story are played effectively by two relatively mature actors. Patricia Clarkson is cool as a cucumber as WCKD C.E.O. Ava Paige, while Aidan Gillen brings the swagger as chief security officer Janson. Some of the best scenes in the film involve these two going head to head. Janson is particularly villainous as he lets little get in his way, including reason, while he hunts down Thomas, whom he is initially able to track thanks to a chip in the Glader’s neck. It’s hard not to have at least fleeting thoughts of our country’s current political climate when watching the situation in the Last City unfold (after all there is an actual physical wall there meant to keep out undesirables), though it’s doubtful that it was the intention of director Wes Ball to make an overt political statement.

Not a lot of backstory is given on the characters, the film counts on the viewer having seen the previous two installments of the series. What the film lacks in character development, it attempts to make up for with plenty of action sequences, and it doesn’t exactly disappoint here, as the lack of extraneous subplots make for good pacing here – The film clocks in at about 141 minutes, but it goes by pretty quickly. Rosa Salazar, an actress who has been gaining traction this past year or so, gives a standout performance. At age 32, Salazar is practically the grandmother of the cast, but it’s fair to say she’s the baddest of the bunch.  

Maze Runner: The Death Cure” opens Jan. 26 nationwide.