By M.V. Moorhead
Well, that would be an impressive medical breakthrough, wouldn’t it? This is the third film in the Maze Runner trilogy, based on the young-adult post-apocalyptic sci-fi novels by James Dashner.
This time the pretty-boy hero (Dylan O’Brien) and a few of his more characterful comrades are on a quest to rescue an old pal (Ki Hong Lee) from his days imprisoned in The Glade back in Part One.
They infiltrate the city stronghold of the sinister corporation known by the anagram WCKD—their marketing department should perhaps have put in a little more time on that branding—where his friend is being held as a possible key to a cure for the disease that is turning the human race into zombielike creatures known as “Cranks.”
The first film in the series, 2014’s The Maze Runner, had the title labyrinth to help generate intrigue and mystery.
In The Scorch Trials, from the following year, the boys had escaped their inscrutable prison, and the results were far more routine adventures, with the same overlay of teenage
This third film is a further step down, alas. The dialogue is banal and the plot, as with The Scorch Trials, is full of elements that recall older, better sci-fi flicks, most notably The Omega Man.
The Death Cure is not without strengths, however. Director Wes Ball, who helmed the previous entries, handles the initial big action scenes excitingly.
There are a number of capable vets in the cast, including Giancarlo Esposito, Barry Pepper, Will Poulter, Rosa Salazar, Aiden Guillen, Patricia Clarkson as the WCKD honcho and Walton Goggins in a small but memorable role as the noseless revolutionary leader of the Cranks.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster, the kid from Love, Actually, is once again touching as our hero’s loyal friend. With the help of these actors and others, the film remains watchable enough until the torturously drawnout, Wagnerian, sturm-und-drang finale wears out our patience.
This movie is another example of a striking recurrent motif in postapocalyptic yarns of recent years, however: Walls.
Walls erected by the frightened powerful to hold the feared and dispossessed at bay have shown up in the Divergent flicks, last year’s Resident Evil finale, War for the Planet of the Apes and now this film. Clearly walls are on our anxious collective mind these days.
The Death Cure is rated PG-13 and plays at Tempe Marketplace, Chandler Fashion Center and other multiplexes Valleywide.