By Madyson McGill
The opening scene begins with a striking wide shot: there’s a car in the distance heading for a train. It could be an introduction straight out of the Fast and Furious series, but it’s not. It’s a cop-out beginning to the last installment in the Maze Runner series, The Death Cure. Let’s get one detail straight for those not caught up with the movies or books: in this world, the Earth has been mostly destroyed by sun flares. I don’t know about you, but I doubt there would be a functioning railway system stretching across the country. Yes, the Earth is in a slow recovery, but they have futuristic aircrafts why do they need railways? This is just one of the many flaws surrounding this movie, and it’s only just begun.
Like the rest of the movie, there a few positives in the opening scene. It’s stunningly shot, it’s fast paced, it’s precise, and it switches scenes between characters flawlessly. Lead actor Dylan O’brien, who plays Thomas, defies death on top of a train with gusto and wears a worried scowl perfect for a hero about to save his friend from being poked and prodded by an organization known as WCKD, who put a bunch of kids in a deadly maze and took all their memories. In their defense, they’re trying to find a cure that will save all of humanity from a virus that basically eats away people’s brains and makes them go crazy. They call it the Flare.
Unfortunately, this scene is a fast-paced start to a rather slow movie. You cheer on the team of heroes as they detach train cars, steal an aircraft, and fly away with a bunch of kids, all while being shot at.
After a series of plot developments, some predictable and others nonsensical, Thomas and fellow maze residents Newt and Frypan take it upon themselves to go to the Last City, the headquarters of WCKD. They last about 15 minutes before they need to be saved. If movie titles like Taken or The Rescuers hadn’t been taken, they would’ve fit much better here than The Death Cure. A few bad choices later, they save Minho, just to enter a literally explosive conclusion at the supposedly impenetrable Last City.
When The Death Cure focuses on traitor-turned-scientist Teresa, the star-quality acting and much needed character development come into play. Played by Kaya Scodelario, Teresa gets the much needed character development she lacked in the first two films, which were dedicated to Thomas. The audience finally gets the answer to her motives. Teresa has always been one to do what’s best for the greater good, which is why she is modeled after Mother Teresa. This also supplies the audience with a much needed behind-the-scenes look at WCKD’s motives.
However, the standout performance comes during the climax from Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt. He’s always been the standout of the series, and not just because he’s the only one with a British accent. He brings a light to the character that holds the group together. His onscreen chemistry with O’Brien is what makes his character’s final moments, as well as a crucial decision of Thomas’s, that much more convincing.
Director Wes Ball has been dedicated to all three movies. He’s made imaginative sets, brought visuals from page to screen, and assembled A+ casts, but where he falls flat is character development and storyline. The plots don’t match the books; everything James Dashner created seems taken more as a suggestion. The author even makes a cameo in this movie, leaving the audience wondering why he let this happen.
I’m going to be honest: I came in biased. I love the books, but for anyone coming into this movie franchise a fan of the source material, be prepared to be disappointed: the versions on the page and on the screen have nothing in common. The actors give it their all, but this film turns a dystopian world into a try-hard utopia, where the problem is only delayed. The Death Cure is supposed to be an impactful conclusion to a long-awaited trilogy. Instead, it is just a decent standalone film, something it isn’t meant to be. It isn’t the ending the trilogy deserves.