By Mark Saldana

Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

2014’s The Maze Runner adaptation offers audiences a tense and mysterious dystopian story that ends with a cliffhanger leaving them wanting more.  The sequel (titled The Scorch Trials), on the other hand, greatly disappoints, as it staggers and nearly fails to move the story to even greater heights. It also fails to satisfactorily answer most of the questions raised by the first film.  Well, the third installment has arrived in theaters, and while it has some exciting action sequences and answers a few questions, I left the theater mostly apathetic about the entire, melodramatic affair and grateful that this is supposedly the last movie.  What it all boils down to is that The Maze Runner juicily teases some amazing reveals with its mystery, but the truth is that it is all much ado about nothing.

Dylan O’Brien (American Assassin) reprises his lead role as Thomas, the leader of a group of maze runners who escaped their prison and have been seeking answers while fighting off WCKD.  Thomas and his brothers have now teamed up with the “Right Arm” resistance group and have set out on a mission to rescue their buddy Minho (Ki Hong Lee).  While battling WCKD’s soldiers, led by Janson (Aiden Gillen), Thomas must struggle with his romantic feelings for Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) who has betrayed their cause and hopes he will do the same.  Meanwhile, Janson and WCKD have made it their goal to recapture Thomas whose biology might hold the key to the cure to the Flare virus.

Director Wes Ball returns to helm this final installment with an adapted screenplay by T.S. Nowlin (based on the novel by James Dasher).  This final chapter of the trilogy does have more exciting moments than the last film and promises a big finish.  Though the movie does offer a few surprises, it has enough plot holes and questionable choices that will certainly insult most intelligent movie goers.  The movie also ends in a way that makes all of the exciting action and tense drama nearly all for nothing.  So, I found pretty much all of the story and plot development rather ridiculous, though it is a fun ride at times.

The cast members do offer solid performances with Dylan O’Brien maturing well into the role of Thomas.  I previously saw the actor in the more mature, R-rated American Assassin where he proves himself as both a good leading man and action star.  With each new film O’Brien seems to improve, but is probably deserving of more intelligent material.  The movie also features great turns by Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Jacob Lofland, Rosa Salazar, Ki Hong Lee, Giancarlo Esposito, and Patricia Clarkson.

Because I have never read any of these YA novels, I have no idea whatsoever how faithful they are to the source material.  I also have no clue if these books are any good either.  All I can say is The Maze Runner series has a promising first film, a second film that is barely necessary and a conclusion that thrills, until one puts some thought into the story.  Should the original author resume the book series and more movie adaptations get made, I sincerely hope that everyone takes into consideration the fragile logic of the previous stories and make some much needed changes.


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