Here are a few good things about Maze Runner: The Death Cure.
First off, and most importantly, Dylan O’Brien is still alive. When The Death Cure first went into production way back in 2016, O’Brien was seriously injured on the set. While it’s never really been disclosed just how serious the injuries were, they were bad enough that it took O’Brien several months to recover. There was even some speculation that his career might be over. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. Last year, O’Brien returned to the screen and gave a superior performance as the lead in American Assassin. In The Death Cure, O’Brien returns as Thomas and even if the character is still a bit of cipher, O’Brien does a good job playing him.
Secondly, Gally lives! In the first Maze Runner, Gally was a villain but, because he was played by Will Poulter, he was also strangely likable. Maze Runner was the first film in which I ever noticed Will Poulter and I have to admit that I’ve always felt that both the actor and the character deserved better than to be casually killed off at the end of the first movie. Since Maze Runner, Poulter has given great performances in both The Revenant and Detroit. (He was also briefly cast as Pennywise in It, though the role was ultimately played by Bill Skarsgard.) In The Death Cure, it is not only revealed that Gally is still alive but he also finally gets to be one of the good guys.
Third, the Death Cure confirms what I felt when I first saw The Maze Runner. Wes Ball is a talented director. Despite whatever narrative flaws that the Maze Runner films may have, they’re always watchable. Death Cure opens with a genuinely exciting action sequence and there are more than a few visually striking shots.
Fourth, Death Cure actually ends the Maze Runner saga. That may sound like a strange or back-handed compliment but it’s not. Death Cure resists the temptation to try to milk more money out of the franchise by unnecessarily splitting the finale in two. I’ve always felt that The Hunger Games made a huge mistake with its two-part finale. (The first part was good but the second part dragged.) Divergent appears to be destined to be forever unfinished because the first part of it’s two-part finale bombed at the box office. Death Cure refuses to indulge in any of that nonsense. Unfortunately, this also means that Death Cure ends up lasting an unwieldy 142 minutes but still, that’s better than forcing the film into two parts. With the current YA dysptopia cycle winding down, now is the right time to end things.
Finally, I appreciated the fact that the bad guys in Death Cure were named WCKD. There’s nothing subtle about that but this isn’t a movie the demands subtlety. As opposed to many other films based on dystopian YA fiction, The Maze Runner films have always been aware of just how ludicrous they often are. Unlike the Divergent films or The Fifth Wave, the Maze Runner films have always been smart enough not to take themselves too seriously.
Anyway, as for Death Cure itself, it’s big and noisy and your enjoyment will largely depend on how much you remember about the first two films. It’s been nearly three years since The Scorch Trials came out, which is an eternity when it comes to a franchise like Maze Runner. Death Cure pretty much jumps right into the action and if you don’t remember all of the details from the first two films … well, good luck getting caught up! (Unfortunately, it doesn’t help that, while the first movie was fun, Scorch Trials was a lot easier to forget.) It’s pretty much a typical tale of YA dystopia, complete with tragic deaths, shocking betrayal, and a chosen one. If you’re a fan of the previous two films or the books, you’ll probably enjoy Death Cure. For the rest of us, it’s a bit of a confusing ride but at least there’s a lot of up-and-coming talent on display.