Taking its cue from the popular James Dashner YA novels, 20th Century Fox’s Maze Runner movie series finally closes out with The Death Cure, which was delayed by more than a year due to the on-set injury of star Dylan O’Brien. Although the series might have lost its mojo due to that interruption in its rollout, this third film makes up for it with the sheer number of action sequences on display.
It starts right at the top with a James Bond-style opening that involves a simultaneous chase involving a moving train, an airplane and a truck. It’s exciting stuff, and director Wes Ball keeps up that level of stunts throughout. It was while filming that sequence, in fact, that O’Brien suffered a serious injury. Fortunately he was able to recover and resume shooting a year later in order to finish the film, and the Maze Runner series. He is a charismatic young leading man and carries the movie on his shoulders, though his gang of Gladers helps along the way.
This time Thomas (O’Brien), Newt (Thomas Brodie Sangster) and friends, who have all lived largely behind a wall of mazes, must find a way to break into the final one. The Last City is run by the WCKD in an effort to find a cure to save America and the human race, which largely has succumbed to zombiedom. The problem is, teenagers like this group are immune to the disease and could be used as sacrifices to find a cure. The Gladers are determined to rescue one of their own who is next in line under the watch of Dr. Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) and her vicious No. 2 man (Aiden Gillen).
Adding to the complications, Thomas’ beloved Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) seemed to switch sides at the end of Scorch Trials, but there is much more to that once this gang hits the Last City, and she plays a key role here. Suffice to say there is a lot of action — stuff blowing up, running, chasing and general mayhem — before all of this wraps up. The actors do their thing, even if T.S. Nowlin’s script contains way too much exposition and makes for a film that is well over two hours. It’s fun seeing the likes of Giancarlo Esposito as leader of the Resistance and a heavily made-up and noseless Walton Goggins as an underground figure. Clarkson, a fine actress, only gets to play it by the numbers in this one. It is the teen stars’ show, and they deliver to the intended young audience who loved the books and the two previous films. 20th Century Fox releases it Friday.