Third Maze Runner movie makes no sense, even if you've seen the earlier installments

If you've felt deprived of generic YA action heroes lately, you're in luck: There's a third Maze Runner movie.
If you've felt deprived of generic YA action heroes lately, you're in luck: There's a third Maze Runner movie.

A bunch of boys are trapped in a mysterious Glade at the center of a massive Maze full of monsters. Some of them have been there for years. Then Thomas arrives, and he is the Hero, and also handsome and brilliant, so they all escape right away, but not before a Girl arrives for him to fall in love with, because what else are girls for? That was The Maze Runner. It was like Lord of the Flies, but nicer.

Once the escapees are outside they discover that it's the apocalypse. There is an evil organization, actually called WCKD, running the end of the world, and they were experimenting on the kids in the Maze because they are immune to the virus and were hoping to find a cure. This was Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.

And now we have No. 3, The Death Cure. (Spoiler: Death is not cured.) This time Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) is leading a rescue mission to grab their Glade friend Minho (Ki Hong Lee) from WCKD HQ, which is in the Last City. Its inhabitants walk around wearing ties and high heels and riding buses and checking their smartphones and are they kidding? It's the end of the world and civilization is dead, and how do they have the resources for any of this? How did they have the resources to build the Maze? None of this makes any sense.

But Thomas — he is so special. He is always right and noble and upstanding. Even when people tell him that he is wrong to do something — like rescue a friend because it puts everyone in danger — they always come around to his way of thinking and show up just in the nick of time to help him. Everyone loves Thomas, so who cares if every plot point that isn't a cliché is a plot hole? You will feel like you've seen this movie before even while you are watching it for the first (and only) time.

Before Thomas and his friends sneak into the Last City, outside in the scorched dead world, it all feels like Mad Max: Fury Road fan fiction enacted by enthusiastic cosplayers. Inside the Last City is a bit Blade Runner meets RoboCop with a dash of Gattaca, lots of neon and glass and sneaking past security cameras into the sleek evil medical labs where Minho is being experimented on. Apparently they are scaring him with virtual reality while draining his blood to get that Flare virus cure, and this is "not as effective as the Maze" where they left kids for years without taking any blood, so does anyone actually know anything? Maybe all the real doctors died in the apocalypse.

Anyway, the Girl from the Maze, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), is here, and she's still a villain (as we discovered before this movie opened), but Thomas still has Feelings for her. "There's something about your blood I don't understand," she says, which will never be on a Valentine's card. Thomas is so special that even his blood is special. And it's still not even the cure for death.

This movie lies to you from the opening credits, and then goes on to be two hours and 20 minutes of empty blah. Generic characters who aren't even distinct enough to be stereotypes. A pedestrian collapse of civilization that has no resonance at all even when it should. Bland flattened emotion that barely rises above the level of "Go on without me!" and "I ain't leavin' you, man!" It would be hilarious if that wasn't happening at the point at which you're restraining yourself from shouting at the screen, "Just be over already!" ♦

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    Maryann Johanson

    Maryann Johanson