Reviews: The Maze Runner

Lost and out of breath

When a film is limited to a single location for one reason or another, smart filmmakers know that it’s best to go for the less-is-more route, and focus on the dialogue and the story aspects to compensate. The Maze Runner does the opposite of that, cutting off all world-building and the plot beyond the bare minimum, and replacing it with nothing worthwhile.

The titular Maze exists simply because it has to, and looks cool, and it’s best not to question it any further. Everyone inside is amnesiac, which conveniently frees the writers from giving them any personalities. They’re literally just the hero, the (slightly) smarter sidekick, the leader, the kid, the envious and cowardly antagonist and the nervous girl. That’s it, and they never change, either. I literally cannot remember a line of dialogue from that movie, other than “We should stay in the Maze” and “Tried that, didn’t work.” The acting doesn’t help: Dylan O’Brien is a complete personality void, and the others aren’t much better. Alby (black leader teen) should’ve been the protagonist: at least his actor was actually good.

There’s thus little reason to actually care for what happens, and so the film falls flat, especially since there’s not even good action to compensate. Yeah, there’s more killing on screen that usual for YA film, but so what? It looks generic, and even the characters won’t care: there’s one scene where they cross the names of the dead off the wall, and that’s it; no-one talks about the dead afterwards, and enormous dramatic potential is ignored. Instead, there’s the half-assed dilemma of whether to explore further and leave or stay in the “safe” Glade, repeatedly brought up by the antagonist even AFTER it gets breached by the Grievers. Of course you should leave: it’s not like anyone even in the film even considers what a “safe” life in a leafy prison, for years on end, would be like.

Lastly, the minute-long exposition video at the end makes everything MORE nonsensical. In their attempt to milk Rule of Cool / Rule of Drama, the author (and by extension, the screenwriter) established the kind of world where growing a lush green glade, only to cut it apart with tons of concrete and throw gene-spliced spiders into the mix, is about the stupidest thing one could possibly do with the remaining resources, and the reason given is suitably idiotic.

Final score: 3/10