Review: ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ (Maze Runner 3: The Apology)

No, it isn’t an actual cure for Death, but it is the end of the trilogy — yay!

When we catch up to Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), he’s still trying to save as many of the immune children as he can but still hasn’t found Minho (Ki Hong Lee). His quest leads him and a small band of friends (read: survivors) to the last city, now secured behind a vast weaponized wall yet teetering on the edge of total infection. The traitorous Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) is still pushing to find a cure thinking she can save everyone, but the villainous Janson (Aidan Gillen) has a far different plan for the cure if one can be found.

Are we tired of running mazes yet? The Scorch Trials fell a bit flat after an abrupt cliffhanger ending that looked more like running out of cash than a planned conclusion, but Dylan O’Brien’s accident in filming the final part on the first week of shooting derailed not only Death Cure but hampered the final season of MTV’s “Teen Wolf” as well. After some soul-searching and recovery time, the actor got everything done he had promised to do, but can the much-delayed part three measure up to the promise of the original Maze Runner?

The biggest problem with many of these dystopian YA apocalypse series is that the longer they go on, the more stretched their premise feels — star-bellied Sneetches, anyone? The Hunger Games managed to hold everything together on the shoulders of Jennifer Lawrence while The Divergent Series utterly fell apart with each subsequent installment. The Maze Runner has been Dylan O’Brien’s vehicle since the first film and generally the best reason to watch it, and while it’s a far better showing (with a real ending, too) than what The Scorch Trials vomited up, it still feels like we’ve stretched the entire idea far too thin to care.

Whether you’ve watched HBO’s “Game of Thrones” or not, no one should ever trust Aidan Gillen, and it’s really hard not to see “Little Finger” in a leather jacket. That could be because Gillen isn’t a great actor… or more likely Janson is a one-note character as written for the film. Almost as untrustworthy is Kaya Scodelario’s Teresa, and any contrived reason to need her for anything is as weak as it sounds. It’s possible O’Brien exudes so much character and confidence that the villains don’t seem worthy of his heroism, but it’s just as likely this is how it’s all in the script: with as little complexity as necessary.

With all the mazes run, the trials scorched, and deaths cured, we’ve finally come to the end… and that may be the best thing of all. Maze Runner: The Death Cure is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language, some thematic elements, and no demise being satisfying enough for those Janson and Teresa.

Two skull recommendation out of four

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