Starting with a train heist which plays out like Disney sinking all their money into a live-action remake of “Toy Story 3”, the third and final instalment of “The Maze Runner” trilogy starts with enough energy and inventiveness that it almost makes you forget it’s been three years since “The Scorch Trials”, thanks to an unfortunate accident during production which nearly cost star Dylan O’Brien his life.
After the WCKD raid on the resistance camp, the Right Arm strike back, attacking a train hauling prisoners bound for experimentation in WCKD’s final remaining safe zone. When the mission to rescue Minho fails, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) determines to go to WCKD and rescue his friend. Accompanied by Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Frypan (Dexter Darden), he sets off braving the wastelands and roving bands of Cranks to meet his destiny.
There’s a lot crammed in to this bloated and repetitive dystopian young adult adaptation, the story and screenplay failing to hid the tension between the temptation to split the final book into two movies and the realisation that the audience probably just isn’t there for more than one final movie (the ignominious fate of the “Divergence” franchise palpably haunts this trilogy closer). Thematically and metatextually, the sunk cost fallacy is a profound presence in “The Death Cure” as WCKD continue to pursue patently pointless avenues of research while the story itself falls back on the tropes and clichés of young adult dystopian fiction again and again. The constant betrayals/ double-crosses and sudden changes of allegiance quickly become tedious, much like the almost relentless use of deus ex machina to break the characters out of the plot culdesacs they seem incapable of avoiding.
Admittedly, despite being far too long, the film boasts much better and more frequent action than its predecessor “The Scorch Trials” but the action needs a far better story to serve. Unless you’re already a die-hard fan of the franchise, this is unlikely to win you over and rather than searching for the cure for death, you might start idly pondering the appeal of its sweet release as the hours and minutes tick by.