‘Maze Runner 3’: Too Long and Too Serious for Its Own Good
Maze Runner: The Death Cure opens with a rambunctious sequence: a racing train carrying kids, two vehicles chasing it, and an aircraft hovering like looming death. The action, choreographed with surprising quickness, has momentum, and an uplifting remuneration, a set-up which pays off wonderfully later in the film.
This opening slyly raises hope. Are we going to witness a mature version of what we have endured so far in the series? Alas, the hopes are soon squashed as we settle into a generic plot, a bubble of YA dystopia that has burst out of its seams in Hollywood.
The third and final installment of Maze Runner is principally smelling of that ‘been there done that’ feeling.
You have a zombie apocalypse, a resistance brewing in shabby underground, perennial ruins, a walled city, futuristic skyscrapers, sharply dressed villains, glass houses, and an overall air of nihilism.
Teen titan Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) must make a trip to ‘the last city’, to rescue his buddy Minho (Ki Hong Lee). The city not only holds his nemesis but also his thwarted love. Of course, his buddies show up one after another to help him.
As followers of the James Dashner YA series know, this speculative fiction has always been low on innovation, but high on borrowed ideas and ideals. The first entry worked as a stunning metaphor for the turbulent terrains of adolescence, but as the series progressed, it started holding onto dystopian sci-fi clichés with growing urgency.
The Death Cure has snooping ideas in its kitty, with immense possibilities even if you consider the liberally rented universe.
For example, the WCKD headquarters, despite their nasty scientific experiments, actually have a noble goal, to find a cure for an epidemic that is wiping out life from the face of the earth. The approaching apocalypse is not entirely man-made ― a nice respite. The fenced metropolitan, too, doffs its hat to the current American president’s lofty ideas. These designs, some grey and some satirical, are pregnant with potential, but the film doesn’t pause once to consider the idea of exploration. The ethical impasses get sidestepped with no concern, and Patricia Clarkson gets zero scope to build on her intriguing ambiguity of Ava Paige.
Director Wes Ball is concerned only with the idea of building a resume for the studio honchos. He shows ample signs that he is ready to be at the helm of the next summer blockbuster budget which requires little exercise of the mind and the heart.
His action set-pieces are relentless and never-ending, and the climax drones on and on, because Ball wants to give every supporting character a proper send-off. The result is a movie too long and too serious for its own good.
(The writer is a journalist, a screenwriter, and a content developer who believes in the insanity of words, in print or otherwise. He tweets @RanjibMazumder)
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