By: Felix Felicis (Two Beers) –
My initial thoughts upon hearing that the Maze Runner trilogy was winding up with its final installment, Death Cure, were “fuck yes! Finally! The decade long-haul of teen adaptations starting with The Hunger Games, Divergent, and finally Maze Runner is finally done! Over! I can gracefully slide ever deeper into my thirties comforted by the knowledge that-” *stage whisper* “What? You mean to say that they’ll just find another book series to adapt? This will never end? Ahhhhh BALLS.” not to mention this review almost didn’t get off the ground logistically! Kidlets, if you Fandango tickets to a theater and show up to THE WRONG THEATER and then HAUL ASS to the correct theater sliding into them seats like creepers slide into your DMs on the regular JUST IN TIME to watch the Fast & Furious-style opening action sequence, then you MIGHT have been me last weekend. You also might be a terrible road trip navigator and unapologetic Little Mermaid karaoke vocalizer.
The Maze Runner trilogy functions best as a whole so watching the first two before going to see Death Cure is vital to understand what’s happening. But if you’re current on the narrative, Death Cure begins directly after events in the second film, but like at least six months later because everyone has longer hair and are wearing super stylish cross-shoulder gear holsters and you KNOW you can’t exactly Etsy those in the semi-zombie apocalypse, so those took some time to rig up… Plus they mention the opening (kind of) rescue sequence took six months to plan.
We follow Thomas and Co. as they kamikaze-rescue a truck full of immune kids being herded around and sucked vampire-dry of adrenal juice by the adults in the apocalypse like genetic life boats to stave off Early Onset Zombieism and subsequently figure out that Thomas’s bestie, MinHo, was last-minute-snatched from the train and taken to THE LAST CITY STANDING EVERRRRRR!! (that cannot be over-dramatized). Also, if you’re not fully on-board ‘shipping Thomas and B-renda (her name is Brenda but you’ll pry pronouncing her name using two syllables from my cold, dead hands) then GET ON BOARD because B-renda came today to serve sass, kick ass, AND DRIVE THAT ISH LIKE SHE STOLE IT (which she did, so it works out).
The Resistance (which are like two adults, one in a semi-manbun – I’m weirdly almost okay with that – and the surviving members of Maze Runner and Scorch Trials) then gears up to sail the high seas Last Ship-style before Thomas and the Gladers splinter off to rescue MinHo (and like side-chick rescue e’rbody else trapped in that city). Enter in surprise callback characters and a weirdly awkward, and largely unvocalized, love triangle (quadrangle? I’m ALL IN on additionally shipping Thomas and Newt together and there’s a super compelling moment during an argument they have where I MIGHT have started chanting “cha la la la la just kiss the boy” under my breath).
I don’t know how they did it, but Death Cure feels like a reboot a la Fast Five rather than a winding down, franchise wrap-up. It’s high-octane, face-melting action romp through teenage dystopia from the drop and it doesn’t let up until the end when they remember they have to end it and then just fade out on some soft focus nebulous bullshit. The weakest part is the ending but I DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE ‘CAUSE HALF MY FACE HAD “LAST ARKED” BEFORE THEN SO SEEING OUT OF ONE EYE WAS KIND OF HARD. This flick fully embraces the genre and masterfully turns into the skid squealing all the way.
Death Cure’s strength was the cast hitting their stride in a full-tilt, badass, moonwalk to the endzone that had franchise character callbacks (seriously, someone you thought was dead pops up like an insane, exclamation-points-for-eyebrows Jack-In-The-Box), crazy stunts that you didn’t see coming, and tragic endings to more than one story. You’re up, you’re down, the only emotional roller coaster more intense in recent memory is a dead-tie between The CW’s Black Lighting blasting onto the TV scene in a big way and The Bachelor’s manufactured drama where you know that evil heifer Krsytal is running on borrowed time.
Dylan O’Brien (late of Teen Wolf – I will go to my grave defending my absolute love of that show) has shouldered this franchise like Jennifer Lawrence shouldered The Hunger Games and, while the ancillary cast knocks it out of the park (B-renda for liiiiiiiiife), what really makes this trilogy and Death Cure not only work, but be MAJESTICALLY entertaining is O’Brien’s evolving take on Thomas. This character has matured onscreen into a bonafide BAMF and you actually believe that people would not only listen to him as a leader, but actually follow his bonkers game plan into certain death, or at least a bad hair day. Side shout-out to Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen as Jansen) for being as absolutely creepy as possible, so much so I was convinced he had simply wandered off the set of Season 8 of Game of Thrones.
While Death Cure is a fantastic, maniacal clown car ride down the highway at Mach 5000, it’s best if you don’t stare at the plot directly because, much like looking directly at the 2018 State Of The Union Address (or the sun), it’s painful, confusing, and will probably make you sneeze repeatedly until your heart explodes. Science fact. Major Spoilers Ahead, mateys! Just scroll to the Verdict until you’ve seen Death Cure.
Let’s unpack this narrative. First, mother nature tries to kill us after we royally fuck up the atmosphere and a solar flare melts like half of the human race… kind of. The other quarter she leaves hungry for braaaains! … And basically anything else they can chomp on. The rest of us are left to one-percent-it in the hopes of finding a cure or just bake like lizards outside the walls of the last city standing like some sort of leper colony. Cool cool cool. So some children begin to be born immune to the Hungry Hungry Human effect and instead of just bidding adieu and going gently into that good night, the Olds begin to suck the life force from millennials in what may be the most direct allegory made of society ever. Of all time. Just tapping those kid kegs like Capri Sun with legs AND THEN THEY GET PISSY ABOUT IT WHEN SOME OF THEM ARE LIKE “NAH NO THANKS WE’RE JUST GONNA BOUNCE THANKS FOR THE INVITE TO A SLOW DEATH BUT I THINK I’M BUSY THAT DAY”.
So enters Thomas, a one-time douchebee on the wrong side of history, designing The Maze and sending in kid after kid to marinate in adrenaline to make that tasty tasty cure. Now firmly on the side of free-range teens, Thomas goes up against his not-quite-ex-girlfriend Theresa (someone explain to me how they turned like four and a half angsty looks throughout the franchise into that kind of tortured “romance” – and don’t even get me started on the psychic communication between them) in a lukewarm love triangle as the INCOMPARABLE B-RENDA throws some unrequited looks his way. Honestly, I’ve had puddings with more consistency than this narrative. But the kicker is after the finale showdown (with some of the most epic action sequences EVER) where it’s revealed that something about Thomas’s DNA makes his blood the cure to a world-ending disease (because of course it is) BUT BY ALL MEANS LET’S END THE FILM WITH EVERYONE GATHERED AROUND A FIRE ‘CAUSE FUCK IT, AMIRITE?!? HAHAHAHA SUCKAS.
Let me slow that down and rinse, repeat.
This movie is called Death Cure.
And there is
Like a million people died in this movie so The Resistance could enjoy some campfire s’mores.
Death Cure is a fun, fast-paced, eminently entertaining romp through teenage dystopia that fully turns into the skid, leaving you screaming all the way through. Embrace it for what it is and it won’t let you down. Buy a bus. Be like B-renda.
The Maze Runner: Death Cure (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: anytime “Thomas” and/or “The Cure” are mentioned.
Do a Shot: whenever B-renda is a stone-cold BALLER/someone turns out to be not super dead.
Take a Drink: every time they extract, work on, or test “The Cure”. Take Two: if it fails.
Take a Sip: for every insane action sequence.
Shotgun Your Beer: each time someone bites the dust in a big way. You’ll know both times.