Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)

Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018) Cover

When reviewing an entry into a franchise of films, I feel it is important to discuss how I felt about the previous films. This important because it establishes a baseline so that you can decide if we have similar feelings about the franchise as a whole and provide context for the current review. To that end, I think it’s important that I establish that I have not watched previous entries into the Maze Runner franchise.

From an outside perspective, Maze Runner: The Death Cure is an average action flick that doesn’t deliver particularly well on any level. I don’t really feel like it’s fair to say that it’s bad, but it isn’t particularly good. The core flaw with The Death Cure is a lack of attention to detail that undermines the setting, story, and action sequences that are otherwise engaging.

In a world where an infection that is functionally a zombie virus has infected most of the planet, The Death Cure centers around the tension of what it refers to as the last human city and the surrounding slums. The last city is strange in how it is extremely well established for the last holdout of human civilization. Its walls are supposedly what has kept the infection at bay, but at the same time, the method of infection never feels entirely clear. The slums outside the city feel way too expansive given that they are pinched between an infected world and a city that is willing to pummel them with missiles. Finally, the walls themselves feel poorly considered as the main characters move in and out of the city freely once they arrive at it, despite the narrative insisting that it is all but impossible to cross between.

Cumulatively, this results in a general narrative dissonance built right into the setting, where you can feel the type of universe and setting that the writers wanted, but weren’t quite capable of delivering. It rarely breaks the story on a thematic level, so this issue largely just feels like background noise. Unfortunately, the same sort of attention to detail bleeds through into the main story, and also the action scenes. The whole thing ends up feeling mostly contrived and prevented me from enjoying the main conflicts as much as I think I could have if the structure had had a stronger foundation.

To the film’s credit, I never felt lost for not having seen its predecessors. It did a good job of catching me up to speed on the universe and setting, and by about a quarter of the way in I had a firm grasp of what was happening, the dangers of the world, and even the backstory of the main characters. Just as importantly, I feel like I gathered most of this information by seeing it instead of through heavy-handed dialog, which is a plus. There were some reveals in the story that lacked impact without the context of the previous movies; however, I can’t properly discuss them without spoilers. What I can say is that it is highly likely that an invested viewer, who has followed the series up till now, will get a few things that didn’t land as intended for me.

Before wrapping up, I want to go over some of what worked for me. It’s important to express that the core ideas for the story and world resonated with me. This compensates a lot for the things that are lacking because I wanted to like the story. Additionally, I gathered a fair amount of entertainment from the pure spectacle. Director Wes Ball competently delivers on the scale of a world falling apart despite being unable to imbue it with more than that.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure is a flawed film that doesn’t work particularly well. While it might gain some extra impact in the larger context of the story, it suffers from some core problems with its construction. The result isn’t bad enough to be unenjoyable, and it delivers on some ideas that there is definitely an audience for. If you’re jonesing for some post-apocalyptic fun, and you can enjoy some cheap action without thinking about it, this is worth checking out.

Final Verdict:A flawed film that still delivers enjoyable action to those looking for enjoyable post-apocalyptic escapism.