Parents need to know that “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” is the finale in the popular “Maze Runner” trilogy based on James Dashner’s best-selling dystopian books. The movie centers on charming, loyal Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), who in this last film must rally the remaining Gladers to again rescue one of their own from WCKD’s clutches. There’s considerably more strong language in the movies than in the books: Expect to hear “s——t,” “bull s——t,” “son of a b——,” etc. And the body count is high, with big explosions and shoot-outs responsible for lots of fatalities. But it’s the up-close deaths (via stabbing, shooting and falling from a great height) that are the most disturbing. Romance isn’t a focus here, as it is in many other YA-based adaptations — instead, the “Maze Runner” stories deal with friendship, teamwork, courage and trust — but there’s a hint of a love triangle and a quick kiss or two.
WHAT’S THE STORY?
The final installment in the “Maze Runner” trilogy, “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” follows Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Newt (Thomas Sangster), Frypan (Dexter Darden) and the rest of the escaped Gladers as they attempt to save Minho (Ki Hong Lee) from WCKD’s clutches. If they can’t, Vince (Barry Pepper) needs to get the rest of the immune on a ship to start over somewhere far away. Minho has been taken to the Last City, a labyrinthine city controlled by WCKD, for more last-ditch experiments. Thomas, his quasi-love interest Brenda (Rosa Salazar) and the other members of their squad team up with the small resistance right outside the Last City’s gates to go on a final mission to rescue their friend. But to get in, Thomas must confront his former friend who betrayed the cause — Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), who still believes WCKD can do good if they use the immune to find a cure — and evade cold-blooded WCKD enforcer Janson (Aiden Gillen).
IS IT ANY GOOD?
Fans of James Dashner’s dystopian saga and the movie series will appreciate the closure this serviceable finale provides, with O’Brien immersing himself in the role of Thomas one last time. The stakes in this one are high, but for Thomas and his buddies, it all boils down to saving Minho. The world-building isn’t as strong here as in, say, “The Hunger Games,” but it does have a clearer premise than the later “Divergent” films: The immune just need to get away from WCKD’s experimenting and start over together.
A couple of twists and turns reunite the Gladers with kids they thought they’d never see again, and characters must make difficult life-or-death choices. Scodelario’s conflicted Teresa pleads her case to Thomas, who’s willing to donate blood if it means saving the infested. That’s an ongoing theme of this installment, which does feature some thrills and nail-biting confrontations but is ultimately about a group of young men (girls and women are scarce in this series) who learn to trust, protect and defend one another against villains who sought to use and destroy them.
RATING AND CONTENT
Recommended for ages 13 and older
Quality: 3 out of 5
Positive messages: 3 out of 5
Positive role models: 4 out of 5
Violence: 4 out of 5
Sex: 1 out of 5
Language: 3 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, and smoking: 0 out of 5
Consumerism: 0 out of 5 (Are products/advertisements embedded? Is the title part of a broader marketing initiative/empire? Is the intent to sell things to kids?)
In theaters: January 26, 2018
Director: Wes Ball
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Run time: 142 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13