Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Maze Runner: The Death Cure</strong> (2018)

(On Cable TV, October 2018) Considering my extremely low opinion of the first two Maze Runner movies, I’m as surprised as anyone else to find out that third instalment The Death Cure is a bit of an improvement. It may be that the enforced delays in the production of the film (put on hold for a year when series star Dylan O’Brien suffered a serious accident while shooting) helped distinguish it from the spectacular crash of the dystopian YA subgenre that occurred in the meantime. It may also be that, contrarily to the recycled and lazy post-apocalyptic settings of the first two volumes, this one heads back to a high-tech megacity as a backdrop to its familiar thrills. No matter why, and I’m not trying to argue that it’s any better than an average action movie, The Death Cure feels a little bit more interesting and a little bit less exasperating than previous instalments. There’s an interesting ensemble supporting cast (Nathalie Emmanuel, Giancarlo Esposito, Walton Goggins, Barry Pepper, Patricia Clarkson, Will Poulter, etc.) stuck with the uninspired material and quite a bit of special effects work to keep things looking dynamic even when the story is dull. Plot-wise and sight-wise, there isn’t a lot in The Death Cure that hasn’t been done better elsewhere (the coincidences and contrivances get heavy at times), but it can be familiar comfort fare for, say, cyberpunk fans looking for a minor dose of the stuff. Director Wes Ball keeps things rolling, so at least there’s a bit of kinetic energy to the nonsense. If I thought too much about The Death Cure (and I don’t really care to), I’d point out the hideous hypocrisy of having the city, a last bastion of civilization, burn to the ground while our teenage heroes claim this as a victory … but that sort of thing is depressingly common in post-apocalyptic YA fiction where the span-of-consequences seems to stop at the teenage protagonists with nary a care for anyone else. “Better than the previous volumes” in this case doesn’t quite translate in an absolute recommendation.

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