Remember when these YA sci-fi dystopian adaptations were all the rage? That feels like a long time ago now. That era did not last very long at all. To recap its demise, it essentially ended when the Hunger Games did--after Mockingjay Part 2 came out in 2015. Many people were disappointed with both Parts 1 and 2, something that I still have been unable to comprehend to this day. But splitting the final books into two movies was part of the reason for the genre's fate. The third movie in the Divergent series came out in 2016 and bombed to the point where they cancelled the fourth one. And that was that--The 5th Wave had failed to get off the ground at all, and at this point people just got sick of the whole thing.
Over a year later, we get the final gasp of the genre--the final entry in The Maze Runner series, delayed almost a whole year due to Dylan O'Brien getting injured on set, and *not* split into two. The Maze Runner was arguably the most inventive one of the bunch, even if parts of its premise felt ludicrous at times. And the films--particularly the first--had a since of relentless mystery to them that kept one's attention. Unfortunately at this point, some seem a bit pre-disposed to hate this genre by default--something I again fail to understand. To be clear, it should not matter who the target audience is *or* the age of the protagonists if a good yarn is being told (or at least an interesting/exciting one).
In this final installment, the organization who lacks subtlety in their acronym (WCKD) is still trying to find a cure to the virus that turns you into a zombie. Unfortunately, the means they've taken to find that cure have obviously been questionable at best--hence why they are the bad guys. And they have a few of main protagonist Thomas's friends now. And he is gonna do whatever it takes to get them back and destroy WCKD for good--even if it means breaking into the seemingly impenetrable "Last City." Good thing he has some help.
Like the previous movies, The Death Cure takes you right into the action--only even more so this time, as it opens with an excellent train action sequence. And once they get to the "Last City" and start their plan, the action is pretty relentless from there--it basically becomes over an hour of total chaos, insanity, and the usual twists and turns we are used to in this series by now. One thing that admittedly was a little underwhelming in Mockingjay Part 2 was the short length of the final assault/battle between the Districts and the Capital--which lasted about all of three minutes. Death Cure improves upon that, giving us a colossal assault upon the Last City from a bunch of random rebels who help add some extra chaos. Basically, one thing is for certain: one will not be bored easily.
Visually, this is a pretty great movie to look at as well. There is a great level of detail in the Last City, and there are plenty of excellent shots. Wes Ball has shown himself as a talented director over the course of this trilogy, and it will be interesting to see what he does next. Elsewhere, some of the actors step up their performances. Dylan O'Brien has been doing pretty good the whole time, but Thomas Brodie-Sangster steps it up quite a bit (perhaps because they actually did more with his character this time), and Aidan Gillen does *way* better in his second go-around in this series as well. Also of note is Walton Goggins, who is new to the series and does not get much screen time, but does well with the time given. (Also some impressive detail on the design of his face--you'll see what I mean.)
While this is an improvement over The Scorch Trials, there were still some issues. While they finally do a better job explaining why the heck they put some virus-immune kids into a dangerous maze, they still never really explain the whole "Flare virus" thing and how in the world that could turn someone into a cast member of The Walking Dead. There's some other little things that could've been fleshed out a bit more too. They bring back a character from the dead, but that character does not end up serving much purpose to the main plot itself. Also, as thrilling and tense as most of the final act is, there was a certain late event (not *that* one, book fans) that feels like it was supposed to impact us... but it really doesn't. And the very end in general kind of felt a little cheap--without spoiling anything, my thought was "Why didn't you just do this a long time ago?"
Maze Runner: The Death Cure will probably not get seen by many people unless they already read the books or they enjoyed the movies without reading the books (me being one of those)--and the latter seem to be few and far between. That's a bit unfortunate. Maze Runner has its problems, but it's a pretty exciting trilogy. And ironically, it actually avoids some of the tropes of its peers in the genre (no love triangle, for example). It may not end up being a well remembered series, but it was still a fun ride and this was still a pretty good final installment.