‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ lacks depth and originality

In Arts & Entertainment, Film & TV, Reviews
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

An angsty leader who isn’t quite sure how to lead, a love triangle and a weird, self-gratifying group of adults hell-bent on torturing them — all the right ingredients for another generic movie adaptation of a young adult book.

“Maze Runner: The Death Cure” is the third and final installment of the saga based on the novels by James Dashner, but the film left more questions than answers. The movie picks up after Teresa’s (Kaya Scodelario) betrayal and the abduction of Minho (Ki Hong Lee) in the previous 2015 movie, “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.”

Set on rescuing Minho, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), the protagonist, and his friends are tasked with finding and infiltrating a city harboring the World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department (WCKD), an organization searching for the cure of a zombie-like virus called the Flare.

While Thomas and company do this, Teresa helps WCKD continue to experiment on humans in an attempt to save humanity.

From what started as a thrilling and interesting young adult series, “The Death Cure” falls short of the expectations set up by “The Maze Runner” (2014). The first movie created questions surrounding the disease and state of the world. However, the finale left those questions unanswered. Instead, the filmmakers tried to bury the crater-sized plot holes with an excess of action sequences.

Although these scenes were suspenseful at first, ranging from a western-like train raid to escaping the infected, they all seemed to follow the same pattern. Finding themselves at the point of no return, the characters are miraculously rescued.

The filmmakers tried to pack every exciting moment from the book into a 2 hour, 22-minute film, but the lack of meaningful storytelling and character development creates chaos and confusion.

Much like the second movie in the series, Thomas stumbles upon a new rebellion that is inexplicably angry and acts without purpose, contributing to the intensity of the action scenes but ultimately stirring up more questions about the nature of WCKD and the disease it hopes to cure.

As a viewer, it is difficult to root for Thomas. His character isn’t compelling, but he somehow continuously rallies followers to help fight his battles, even when he is advised otherwise. His bad decisions lead to a series of near-death experiences that could have easily been avoided.

Throughout the movie, Thomas’ expression and demeanor rarely change. His character remains stagnant throughout the entire series: a brave and serious leader who claims he wants to save everyone but is willing to sacrifice people to save his friends.

Although Thomas is supposed to be heroic, he comes off as whiny and more of a hindrance than an asset to his crew.

Thomas isn’t the only underdeveloped character. The remaining teenagers he originally met in the maze and the friends he makes along the way also have no personal depth.

Brenda (Rosa Salazar), a character introduced in “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” is a fearless adrenaline junky willing to do anything for Thomas. However, her character is static and has no substantial backstory presented in the film. She shows up, saves the day, and that’s that.

Even Teresa, who has a backstory and is supposed to be spearheading the way to a cure, beats the rest of the cast in flat acting. Her character is so emotionless and doe-eyed for the majority of the movie that it almost seems as if she’s trying to win an apathy award against Bella Swan from the “Twilight” movies.

In the end, the movie adaptation of “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” leaves no lesson to be learned other than harvesting teenagers for the sake of others is probably not a great thing to do.

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