Due to a tragic accident on the set of Maze Runner: The Death Cure, the third entry in the dystopian franchise was delayed a long time. Now it’s here, which is likely good news for those who have been waiting for a culmination of the story. If, however, the extended delay made you forget The Death Cure was even coming, you’re likely better off just continuing to forget.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure picks up where the last film left off. Our hero Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) has joined a group of resistance fighters in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where the human race has been nearly obliterated by disease. The organization WCKD (known as Wicked, because subtlety is a skill we’ve lost in the future, apparently) is experimenting on those immune to the disease, like Thomas, in hopes of finding a cure. After having kidnapped several survivors, including Thomas’ friend, and fellow immune, Minho, at the end of the last movie, the new one opens with an attempted rescue. The rescue doesn’t go according to plan, however, leading Thomas to take a small band to infiltrate The Last City, WCKD’s stronghold, and the only real civilization left.
First thing’s first: you’d better be up to speed on your Maze Runner history, because The Death Cure doesn’t bother to explain anything about the previous two films. Considering the delayed release, a little opening summary wouldn’t have been out of line, but instead, we drop right into the action and the story continues as if you had just finished watching The Scorch Trials. While this isn’t necessarily the end of the world, you’ll pick up enough of the plot details as you go, the problem is that this approach means that The Death Cure is utterly incapable of standing on its own as a film.
Characters aren’t introduced so much as they appear. These characters may have understandable motivations for what they do that was explained at some point previously in the series, but it’s never mentioned here. Perhaps they have grown or changed as people over the course of the films, but they certainly don’t do that in this movie. Certainly, even if you found something worth loving about our heroes in a previous film, you’ll have to simply remember that it happened, because here everybody is little more than a cog in the machine that is the forward progression of the plot.
That plot is nothing to speak of. Even if you’re not up to speed with the Maze Runner series, there’s little that will surprise you if you have even a passing familiarity with this genre.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be had in the familiar story. The action set pieces are exciting enough. The opening bit with the train, and a later one with a bus, are certainly entertaining, even if they’re just as patently unbelievable as the rest of the plot. How exactly did everybody else know exactly where the train would stop?
However, those fun moments are few and far between. With a runtime of two hours and twenty minutes, you’ll be spending a lot of time with these thin characters and warmed over plot. Maze Runner: The Death Cure is too long by half. You want to commend The Maze Runner for not doing what every other literary series adaptation has done in recent years and split their final book into a pair of films, but The Death Cure begins to approach the length of two movies. You think it’s going to end after the first action finale, but then it keeps going and has another action finale, followed by a wrap up that wants to give The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King a run for its money.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure is for diehard Maze Runner fans only. Between the extended wait, the extended length, and the characters without character, it’s unlikely anybody else will have the constitution required to get the end of this maze.