Maze Runner: The Death Cure (PG-13)

Action/Adventure 141 min. January 26, 2018
By Alan Scherstuhl
The Maze Runner movies are like that bus from Speed: Everything's fine when it's hurtling along, but once it slows down, things get deadly. Often made with more vigor and vision than you might expect but never quite edging too close to "compelling" or "good," Wes Ball's glum-and-run film trilogy adapts novelist James Dashner's YA dystopia into something resembling terse, tough direct-to-streaming action thrillers — just barely edited down to a PG-13.

Out goes most of the characterization, the relationships, the coming of age, the crises of the soul. In come hurtling scenes of dazzlingly hunky young people dashing down corridors and through warehouses and the streets of ruined cities, pursued by maze monsters (in the first film) or cheapjack zombies (in the sequels). In their coordinated cotton separates, the cast members run, with Cruise-ian power and intensity, and the camera keeps pace with them, capturing bodies in motion with a smooth clarity that shouldn't be so notable. During the protracted sequences of flight and fight, speed and brutal impact, the Maze Runner movies run circles around most studio action films.

The Death Cure, I fear, has fewer of these sensational stretches than its predecessor, The Scorch Trials. This final entry is obliged to reveal mysteries, wrap up the story, and dispense with the most half-assed love triangle since I had two go-nowhere crushes at the same time in high school. So, the fight/flight gives way to portentous chatter between characters who, over three movies, have yet to develop singular traits. Expect long confrontations freighted by backstory and villain-versus-hero showdowns with every beat that you can call too many seconds beforehand.
Wes Ball Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Espositio, Aidan Gillen, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Will Poulter, Patricia Clarkson James Dashner Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen, Lee Stollman 20th Century Fox

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