Through pure bad luck, the Maze Runner trilogy is a bit late in wrapping up. The previous instalment, The Scorch Trials, came out in 2015. A serious on-set injury to star Dylan O’Brien (he is evidently fine now) delayed production on The Death Cure, giving a near three-year wait. Even if it’s coming well after the series’ moment has passed, and when all but the most dedicated fans will have lost track of the plot, the concluding part is a safe but satisfying closer.
To catch up the casual viewer, the story of The Maze Runner is a bit like The Hunger Games x The Walking Dead. The world has been ravaged by a virus that turns people into crazed zombies, as all futuristic viruses apparently must. A tiny percentage of the population has been identified as immune and some were put into a maze to be studied, in the hope of developing a cure. They escaped, found the world turned to absolute crap and vowed to find and confront the people who were prepared to let them die so that others might live.
It opens with a rescue mission that is spectacular enough that it’s hugely enjoyable even if you can’t remember who is being rescued, by whom, and why. It’s like a low-key Fast And The Furious set-piece. Action is kept fairly high in the mix throughout, and even though it’s well over two hours long it hardly feels sluggish or bloated. The plot very rarely takes a surprising turn – you could have a bash at identifying those who won’t survive within about half an hour – but it treads its familiar beats confidently. The cast, who are meant to be teenagers, all look very much like the 20-somethings they are, but they’re all talented and charismatic, so who cares if they look nearly a decade older than they’re playing. Let’s put it down to the stress of apocalypse.
Most YA movie series fizzle out toward the finish – The Hunger Games concluded on a flat note; Twilight ended ridiculously and Divergent had its final film cancelled. Although it’s significantly belated, The Maze Runner has found its way to the end in a better state than most, as fun and unpretentious as it was at the beginning.