Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Let me just say that the three Maze Runner films evolved far more powerfully than the Blade Runner sequel or The Hunger Games trifecta.

Maze Runner The Death CureAs I’ve said before, I have never been to a more remarkable movie theater than the IMAX theater at the Indiana State Museum here in Indianapolis. It is hard to accurately describe the impact of sitting in this large theater with rows of seats sloping at an unusual angle from top to bottom, not to mention the gigantic movie screen and an incredible sound system.

But let me give you some important advice. While it is a fantastic setting for acclaimed movies like the recent Star Wars and the Oscar nominated Dunkirk, it is a perfect place to see films where you harbor a bit of doubt. Keep that in mind if you are tempted to see the Maze Runner: The Death Cure, a movie that I personally enjoyed.

The two earlier films stood out for some simple reasons. To begin with, with the exception of Patricia Clarkson, the film starred actors with little name recognition who proceed to capture your attention in unexpected ways. Furthermore, the plot concerning young people trapped in a maze for unknown reasons was spectacularly intriguing, and their escape left you rooting for their survival.

In this third film, Thomas (another standout performance by Dylan O’Brien) leads a group of survivors known as Gladers into the city run by WCKD, a nasty group of humans who continue to abduct and harvest young captives to try to find a cure for a plague that is reducing all humans to zombies. His old friend Minho (Ki Hong Lee) is a hostage facing scientific destruction, and Thomas is determined to try to save him even if it means losing his own life.

Even if you didn’t see the first two films, you will still find this film rewarding on its own merits. To begin with, the special effects used by Director Wes Ball will capture your attention at every turn, and this includes an opening sequence involving a train rescue mission that is as good as anything you might have witnessed in Oscar winning movies like Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).

And a number of very good performances keeps this film rolling from beginning to end. That includes a diverse cast ranging from Giancarlo Exposito as the wise pilot Jorge, Rosa Salazar in her role as Brenda, a young woman who will participate in any battle while masking her love for Thomas and Kaya Scodelario’s turn as Teresa, a woman who destroyed the love affair with Thomas when she appeared to turn traitor and join WCKD in the second film.

And while Ms. Clarkson and Aidan Gillen stand out as the leaders of WCKD, I urge you to focus on Will Poulter, playing one of the original leaders of the Gladers who was thought to have been killed in the last movie after he appeared to have turned on his friends. Having recovered, he reappears to help his suspicious comrades, and I can only remind you of Mr. Poulter’s incredible performance as the lead racist cop in last year’s Detroit.

In closing, what makes this film work is that good people die in the same fashion that made Logan such an engaging film in 2017. Tears flow readily on screen when the loveable Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) begins to mutate, and the film ends when Teresa and Thomas standing in each other arms on the top of a burning building where it appears they must say goodbye. And yes, I will reward all of you cynics who shake their heads at me when I admit that I sat in the theater wiping tears away.

While this film doesn’t equate to the enormous feel produced by the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it honorably sits on the same cinematic shelf. Conner, my 19-year-old grandson, enjoyed it as much as I did, so it is worth taking the time to buy a ticket.