“Maze Runner: The Death Cure”: Dylan O’Brien returns from injury and commands the entire film

Maze Runner: The Death Cure” (directed Wes Ball), the third in the Maze franchise based on James Dashner’s novels (which have gone into the prequel area now) had a delayed release, due to the injury of its charismatic lead actor, Dylan O’Brien as the rebel leader Thomas. There some accounts of this on USAToday, Vanity Fair, and DenofGeek.

The film picks up with the idea that most of the world has been destroyed by a pandemic of the “Flare Virus” which seems to leave its victims scarred as if by severe Kaposi’s Sarcoma as well as turning into rabid zombies. But Thomas, Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Frypan (Dexter Darden) are among the “immune”, as they leave an internment camp to rescue Minho (Ki Hong Lee), held in “the city” in a medical lab where his serum will be used for a cure.

The dystopian world as shown is quite devastated, looking as if there had been widespread war. I thought, this is what Trump may be risking for us with North Korea.

When the kids arrive at the City, they have to find their way around “The Wall” guarding it, which of course reminds me of Trump’s “Build that Wall”.  There is a system of tunnels and gangplanks. Thomas negotiates with another kid Gally (Will Poulter) to get him on his side. The City itself resembles what you would see in China, with highrise spires and politicized signs  — and curfew.  No gay bars around. No Facebook. It’s noteworthy that the screenplay had been finished before Trump’s election, yet it seems to anticipate the issues Trump bas pandered.

The plot gets dense, as the “Wicked” plot to save themselves by kidnapping “the immune” and draining them for cures.  Patricia Clarkson is venomous enough as mastermind Ava (women are villains here). The 140 minute film builds up to a catastrophic conclusion, where the city falls down in building pancakings like multiple 9/11’s and Thomas, although injured (as in real life) is rescued.   The plot, of course, reminds me of right wing calls for quarantine of AIDS patients and even al; gay men during the height of the 1980s AIDS epidemic.

Then there is a Baxian epilogue on what looks like Hawaii (the film was largely shot in South Africa) where Thomas is setting himself up in an intentional community, well off the grid, camping out on the coast, and remembering the people who were lost.  Thomas will be an important person in this world that is starting over without technology.  That kind of future would not be for me.  It’s sad that some of the other kids, appealing as they are, didn’t make it.

Second video:  anybody notice something “wrong” right at the beginning?

Legacy reviews of two previous films in trilogy.

South African desert mountain scenery (wiki).

Name: Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Director, writer:  Wes Ball
Released:  2018 (orig 2017, delayed by injury to lead)
Format:  2.35:1, Imax
When and how viewed:  Regal Potomac Yards, late 2018/2/6, fair audience
Length:  141
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  20th Century Fox
Link:  official
Stars:  4 out of 5  ****-

(Posted: Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 12:30 PM EST)