This dystopian teen saga gets just about satisfyingly wrapped up – without ever setting the world alight.
After a two and a half year hiatus between the second and third parts – mainly due to a lengthy production delay when lead star Dylan O’Brien was seriously injured in an on-set accident – it may have actually benefited from the break due to a whole host of similar genre movies being released at the time.
Even the Hunger Games petered out into ho-hum territory, and the fourth instalment to complete the Divergent series (which also got progressively worse) might never be made. The Maze Runner sits somewhere between the two, after the franchise best opening (3.5/5 in 2014), and more tepid The Scorch Trials sequel (2.5/5 in 2015).
After escaping the clutches of the WCKD last time out, Thomas (O’Brien) leads his group of escaped Gladers – including Thomas Brodie-Sangster’s (Love Actually) Newt – and new pals – Rosa Salazar’s Brenda and Giancarlo Esposito’s Jorge – on a daring escape mission to save their friend Minho (Ki Hong Lee).
To do this they must break into the legendary last city – where the traitorous Teresa (Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge’s Kaya Scodelario) and security head honcho Janson (Aiden Gillen) are housed – where the Gladers could be recaptured (or just killed) and continue to be used for trials to find a cure to the deadly disease The Flare, which has blighted mankind.
Fortunately the first half, which involved several strong set pieces – an opening train escape salvo and tunnel scene battle against the ‘infected’ – saves the movie from its bloated final third (which does at least have a couple of surprising deaths – one you may particularly care for, and one you won’t), which just about takes it over the finishing line.
That is offset by a particularly over-the-top bus sequence, and Gillen’s cringeworthy brooding villain and his army of truly haphazard and wholly inept security staff.
If you can get past that then O’Brien again makes an amiable leading star – who may struggle to shake off that trademark pensive look – and the rest of the cast do enough to complete a middling saga that’s just about remained watchable throughout, despite getting lost once or twice.
Unfortunately it won’t linger in the memory for very long and was probably at its best at the start of the first film – when they were actually ‘Maze Running’.
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Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Rosa Salazar, Aiden Gillan, Giancarlo Esposito, Barry Pepper, Patricia Clarkson, Dexter Darden, Walton Goggins & Nathalie Emmanuel
Running Time: 2 Hrs 22 Mins
Director: Wes Ball
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