Film Review: Maze Runner: The Death Cure

The third and final installment in the popular young-adult novel-to-film series is purely for the fans.
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Set in a dystopian future in which teenage boys are first forced to negotiate an intricate maze, then have to confront a world that's been devastated by disease and the scorching damage of a series of solar flares, Maze Runner: The Death Cure is the third film in a hugely popular series based on the young-adult novels by James Dashner. 

Young Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) has survived the maze, forged a complicated history with Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), the only girl ever introduced into competition, and learned that the world is run by a medical/industrial corporation called WCKD that exploits young people for the shadowy greater good of a hugely damaged and damaging society. Thomas and his allies, who include Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Brenda (Rosa Salazar), Gally (Will Poulter) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), undertake an assault on the glittering but moribund Last City and spend a great deal of time running through corridors, leaping heedlessly from high places and surviving spectacular fireballs as they try to take down the nasty grownups—notably damaged idealist Ava Page (Patricia Clarkson) and just-plain-nasty Janson (Aidan Gillen)—who control their lives.

The films are essentially review-proof: Fans of the books may have their quibbles with casting or the inevitable condensation of the narrative, but the story's fundamental appeal to teenagers is rock-solid. It's all about oppressed, ignored and marginalized youngsters who realize that they're the world's last best hope and rise to the challenge. What’s not to love?

The previous installments' box office suggests that those satisfied with The Maze Runner (2014) and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015) will be equally pleased with Maze Runner: The Death Cure. But for viewers who aren't already deeply invested in the Maze Runner series or who've stopped drinking from the well of youthful angst, Maze Runner: The Death Cure—which runs close to two and a half hours—is simplistic and filled with characters who, however well they may have been developed on the page, have little depth onscreen. And if you don't fundamentally care about them, then all their subterfuges and efforts to bring down the bad old world in which they live don't amount to a hill of beans. 

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