Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Oh, look. This ended.

“Maze?” Who said anything about a “Maze?!”  You must have us confused with another set of films. To the delight and disappointment of very few, the Maze Runner trilogy -which stopped being about mazes years ago- ended this past week. While it may have launched a few TV careers, I seriously doubt the impact of possible dystopian future #547B.2 will be felt by anybody. However, at least it got a chance to end. The Divergent dystopia jumped the shark with such fervor that nobody needed to see the conclusion.

If you’re like me, you’ve all but forgotten what happened in the first two Maze Runner films, so let me bring you up to speed: it’s the future, and a bunch of restless kids live in the desert. Yup. That’s about it. Hmmm. I suppose a little more detail might be necessary … ok, they used to live in this big maze, and there were more of them, but they escaped. Yup. That’ll do. Maze Runner: The Death Cure begins with a great train robbery. Thomas the non-train engine leads a commando raid on human trafficking by the “WCKD” corporation. Huh, I wonder if that name is a clue as to who the bad guys are. If only there were some way to tell. The object is to get imprisoned pal Minho (Ki Hong Lee), but for all the inside info on this job, the jerks grab the wrong car. Don’t worry, they rescue a bunch of kids we don’t care about. Later on, they’ll rescue another busload of kids we don’t care about. This is the overarching theme of the Maze Runner trilogy.

Failing to collect Minho outside the forbidden city (or whatever they called their walled up protectorate) simply provides the plot for the rest of the film. In a way, it was a good idea not to collect Minho in Act I, cuz otherwise, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his other pals (the kid from Love Actually and the guy whose balls swell to the size of a grapefruit in We’re the Millers) might have nothin’ to do. Also, the movie certainly wouldn’t be able to imagine a pathetic love triangle among Thomas, Brenda (Rosa Salazar), and Teresa (Kaya Scodelario). Gee, wouldn’t that be a shame? Imagine a triangle in which no single member is either in love, was in love, or wishes to be in love and you get the idea here.

Oh, and Teresa is the leading scientist in what remains of the world, and the only one actively looking for a solution to the zombie apocalypse. Yeah, I’m not even sure I’m exaggerating here. The Maze Runner’s biggest issues from the outset have been generational warfare. In general: kids are good, adults are bad with very few exceptions. Even the “caring” adults, like Patricia Clarkson, often come off as callous, while Aidan Gillen is a flat-out villain, which is tough feat to master in a civilization where 99% of the population has turned into zombies. This trilogy has played on generational rivalry since film one and Maze Runner: The Death Cure takes it to next-level ridiculous, where the adults not only actively hunt down, imprison and kill all the children, but teens like Thomas and Teresa are the only ones capable of leadership or innovation. On top of that, the movie knows it; those opposed to Thomas have not but evil in their hearts. If this college freshman can’t lead us to the promised land, nobody can.

Years from now, you might run across Maze Runner: The Death Cure crying out from its tiny little DVD shelf coffin, warning us about fascism, businesses into social science, and adults in general. The tiny voice might come off as awkward were it not so easily drowned out in a sea of Hunger Games and Blade Runners. Death Cure was neither unwatchable nor without a moment or two that will grab your attention, but if there were a fourth film, such would represent a truer dystopian tragedy.

The apocalypse comes with certain duties
Your present is altogether moot-ies
So when it goes down
And you look around
I hope the guy in charge doesn’t fear “cooties”

Rated PG-13, 142 Minutes
Director: Wes Ball
Writer: T.S. Nowlin
Genre: Our screwed future
Type of being most likely to enjoy this film: Dylan O’Brien’s mother
Type of being least likely to enjoy this film: The jealous cast of Divergent

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