All spoilers for The Maze Runner and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials are unmarked. You Have Been Warned!
Teresa: It stops when we find a cure.
Thomas: There is no goddamn cure!
Maze Runner: The Death Cure is the sequel to Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and the final chapter in the three-part live-action adaptation of the Maze Runner novels by James Dashner. It is based on The Death Cure, the final novel of The Maze Runner trilogy. The film is once again directed by Wes Ball and written by T.S. Nowlin.
Picking up one year after the events of The Scorch Trials, Thomas and the surviving Gladers continue their search for a cure for the Flare. Along the way, they must rescue Minho from captivity and fight against WCKD for the last time.
Most of the lead cast from the previous films return, including Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Nathalie Emmanuel, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Ki Hong Lee, Jacob Lofland, Katherine McNamara, Barry Pepper, Will Poulter, Rosa Salazar, and Patricia Clarkson. New additions to the cast include Walton Goggins.
The Death Cure was released on January 26, 2018. Filming began proper in March 2016, with Canada and South Africa as shooting locations.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure contains examples of:
- Action Prologue: The movie opens with the Gladers assaulting and stopping a speeding WCKD train in order to free Minho. They get the wrong wagon, so the rest of the film is about getting him out of the Last City instead.
- Adaptational Late Appearance: Newt being infected with the virus is known from the start of the book, but not revealed until about forty minutes into the film.
- Adaptational Villainy:
- Teresa again. Very early in the book, she realizes that WICKED's experiment is not going to stop and gets the hell out of the HQ as fast as she could. In the film, she remains a devoted scientist of WCKD until her death.
- Assistant Director Janson is hit with this as well. While in the books, he was a ruthless and undeniably evil Mad Scientist, he was still a Well-Intentioned Extremist who's overall goals aligned with WCKD's. In the film? Janson outright betrays and murders Ava Paige and tries to hijack the cure in Thomas' blood to play pick-and-choose with who lives and who dies to create a future of his own design.
- Adaptational Heroism: Vince and the Right Arm; they truly intend to save the Immunes and take them far away from WKCD. Vince truly cares about the kids as well, and refuses to risk any of them on Thomas's endeavor. Conversely, Lawrence is now the leader of a different faction that not only intends to destroy WCKD (like the Right Arm on the books) but also the entire city, which is established to be the last remaining bastion of civilization left in the world.
- Adaptation Distillation: The plot of the third book is distilled to incorporate elements of the previous installment, The Scorch Trials
- Alas, Poor Villain: Ava Paige is shot in the back by Janson after suffering a Heel Realization and deciding she'll stop testing the immunes. Her last words before she's shot are promising Thomas she'll leave them alone. In contrast, Janson's death at the hands of a pair of Cranks is quite satisfying.
- Ascended Extra: A minor example: While Newt is still a main character in the book, he's not present or on the sidelines for a good portion due to him getting the Flare and being taken by Cranks. He's present the entire time in the movie, which means we get to see every painful minute of his transformation into a Crank. Yay.
- Asshole Victim: It's hard for the audience to feel sympathy with the deaths of Ava Paige and Janson — the former slightly less than the latter as she was well on her way to a HeelFace Turn as in the books before Janson murders her in cold blood.
- Back for the Finale: Gally returns to help the heroes fight WCKD in this film.Newt: How? How is this possible? We watched you die.
Gally: No, you left me to die. And if we hadn't found you when we did, you'd be dead right now.
- Battle Amongst the Flames: The final showdown between Thomas and Jansen eventually turns into one, courtesy of several missiles strikes against the building they're in.
- Big Badass Battle Sequence: After two movies with battles involving only a handful of fighters on each side, the third involves an extended war sequence more reminiscent of Black Hawk Down and the likes.
- Big "NO!": When Thomas sees Teresa fall to her death, as the main WCKD building collapses from underneath her.
- Bittersweet Ending: Thomas and the Right Arm have settled in a new safe haven that Ava pointed out for them, Ava Paige and Janson are dead, Lawrence's group have destroyed the Last City with explosives and Gally is alive, well, and reformed. However, many of Thomas's friends died for him to defeat WCKD, and there are still others in the world who are unsafe from the Flare and Cranks.
- Body Horror: Lawrence is essentially a full-blown crank that managed to retain some semblance of sanity thanks to the WCKD serum. Needless to say it isn't a pretty sight.
- Lampshaded by Newt, as the group plan to get into the Last City.
- The first movie's opening scene (before the titles) had an Orbital Shot of the Maze, while zooming out from Thomas, where he is seen from the back. This is meant to convey his uncertainity of being in a far, unknown place. The last shot of this movie is yet another Orbital Shot, only with the camera zooming into Thomas's face instead, as he contemplates his brighter future in a place where all the Immune can be safe.
- In a meta-sense. The Maze Runner was the first film in the trilogy and was directed by Wes Ball and co-written by T.S. Nowlin. The last film was directed by Ball and written by Nowlin as well.
- Continuity Nod:
- The Maze Runner (2014):
- When Gally's survival is revealed to Thomas, the latter is quick to attack the former over Chuck's death. Newt, however, reminds Thomas that the only reason that happened was due to Gally being stung by a Griever.
- The surviving Immunes erect a stone slab in the Safe Haven where they can engrave the names of their dead loved ones, just as the Gladers did in the Maze. And Wes Ball's name also comes back as one of those entries.
- Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials:
- Once again, Thomas gives the middle finger to Janson after the former has escaped from the latter.
- Someone ends up getting shot dead from a single bullet, with the shooter (Janson) being seen one camera cut later. Previously, it was Mary Cooper. Now, it ends up being Ava Paige.
- The Maze Runner (2014):
- Contrived Coincidence: Happens disturbingly often. When the Gladers attack the WCKD train in the Action Prologue, Thomas is explicitely called out on being late, yet they stop the train exactly where Newt and the others are lying in wait. Another good example is that stunt with the crane lifting the bus full of Immunes out of the Last City to safety — Brenda doesn't really seem to know where she's headed during the escape, yet she ends up cornered in just the right spot anyway.
- Cyberpunk: The Last City has this vibe going. Dark most of the time? Check. Neon Tron Lines everywhere? Check. Holographic ads on every corner? Double check. Makes for a nice Orange/Blue Contrast with the desert settings of the two previous films.
- Death by Adaptation:
- Lawrence. His last scene in the book is dropping Thomas to the WICKED HQ, so we can presume for the best that he survives the attack on the HQ. Meanwhile, the film explicitly shows him conducting a suicide mission in order to tear down the walls of the Last City.
- Ava Paige dies from being shot In the Back by Janson. The book had her live to have a Heel Realization and stop WCKD's testing on the Immune.
- Decomposite Character: Both Vince and Lawrence are in the book and the movie, and Vince is still the leader of the Right Arm. However, Lawrence is not Vince's assistant and the two never meet with each other. Instead of the Right Arm, Lawrence is the leader of an unnamed vigilante group residing on the outskirts of the Last City. This vigilante group actually mirrors the book's Right Arm very well: being a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits whose goal is to bring down WCKD and having Gally as a member, rather than the (comparatively) peaceful Right Arm, whose goal is to save as many Immunes as they can.
- Demoted to Extra: Aris, Sonya, and Harriet, since they do not join the group in infiltrating the Last City. They only appear in the beginning and the very end.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Janson is shown to be this: he's calling the search and strikes against Thomas. Once Ava Paige reveals that the latest serum batch has failed and that she's given up on finding a cure, he pretty much takes over WCKD.
- Dressing as the Enemy: The Gladers infiltrate the Last City this way. It gets them out of a whole bunch of hairy situations and probably would've worked even longer if they hadn't decided to ditch the face-concealing helmets for no apparent reason.
- Easily Forgiven: Gally surprisingly holds nothing against Minho, despite the latter having thrown a spear that nearly killed him during the first film, and is perfectly willing to help the gladers rescue him .Minho: Why are you helping us, Gally? I put a spear through your chest.
Gally: Yeah. Nobody's perfect, man. [pats Minho reassuringly]
- Epilogue Letter: In the epilogue, Thomas reads Newt's farewell letter hidden inside a container the latter gave him earlier.
- Exactly What I Aimed At: Thomas throws an object towards Janson, that completely misses and hits the glass behind the latter instead. It turns out that there were two Cranks behind the glass, so they break it and swarm on Janson to kill him.
- Expository Hairstyle Change:
- Brenda had short hair in the previous film, which has grown to just above shoulder length now. When she's first seen, the length of her hair is a good indicator that a lot of time has passed.
- Minho's hair is worn flat over his forehead while he is tortured by WCKD. After he's rescued, he wears it back to its gelled up style.
- Teresa wears her hair up a lot more now that she is working with WCKD. Whenever she seems conflicted, her hair is down.
- "Eureka!" Moment: When the Gladers are cornered by Janson and his goons, Thomas gets a bright idea about using a window to escape.
- FaceHeel Revolving Door: It's never really clear which side Teresa is currently on. Often she doesn't seem to be sure herself.
- Faceless Goons: WCKD soldiers wear completely opaque helmets. Very handy for sneaking past them if you can get your hands on some of their uniforms...
- Final Battle: The Gladers must fight against WCKD for the final time in search of a cure for The Flare.
- Grand Finale: The third and last chapter of the film trilogy.
- Heroic Sacrifice: When the Right Arm arrive to retrieve Thomas and Teresa from the burning WCKD headquarters, Thomas cannot reach their grip from their helicopter, even with Teresa's aid. She instead tosses him to them, only to die as one of the nearby towers collapses onto the helipad, causing the whole structure to crumble and taking her with it.
- Incurable Cough of Death: One of the symptoms of Newt becoming a Crank.
- In Name Only: Much like the previous film, only a few elements from the book remain. The majority of the third book's plot had to be distilled to suit the newer narrative created by the second film.
- Jump Scare: When Ava Paige is telling Thomas that WCKD will take great care of her, a loud gunshot suddenly occurs, killing Ava. It can catch a first-time viewer off guard.
- La Résistance: The Right Arm and their allies.
- Last Kiss: Thomas and Teresa share one, before the Right Arm's helicopter arrives to save them, and Teresa's Heroic Sacrifice.
- Living MacGuffin: Teresa discovers that Thomas is the cure to the Flare.
- Living on Borrowed Time: Lawrence should've turned into a Crank long ago. The only reason he's still mostly sane is the WCKD serum, and he's running out.
- No Escape but Down: The Gladers jump out of a tall window to escape from Janson and his mooks at one point.
- Now What?: The film ends with Thomas pondering what he is going to do with a vial of liquid which, as far as we know, can cure the Flare virus for good.
- Old Flame: Here, we see the fallout of Teresa betraying the Gladers to WCKD. Although she and Thomas still obviously have the hots for each other, their relationship is permanently damaged; even if they manage to go for it somehow, it won't be the same as before, either because they will never have enough trust or because outside influence will break them up. It turns out to be the latter. Teresa is killed while saving Thomas from the collapsing WCKD building. The book is not as complicated about this matter; when Teresa betrayed him, Thomas is completely turned off to her and has a hard time considering her even as an ally.
- Orange/Blue Contrast: Though they're never actually shown in the same shot, the post-apocalyptic desert areas contrast this way with the black-and-blue Cyberpunk aesthetics of the Last City.
- "Ray of Hope" Ending: Teresa manages to splice Thomas' DNA into a sample of the virus which produces a vial of liquid she claims is the definitive cure. This means that, although the world will still continue to crumble, the Immunes have an opportunity to reverse them. Mind you, this is a major improvement from the book, which is not as positive; the cure is not and probably will never be found, so the Immunes are left by themselves and must build everything from the ground up.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: When Lawrence's vigilante army finally breaks into the Last City, they don't settle with taking down WCKD — they destroy everything. The whole city turns into a hellish war zone almost instantly, and within less than an hour they've blown up several skyscrapers, set fire to the rest and pretty much annihilated the very thing they wanted to claim for themselves. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero doesn't even begin to cover it.
- Roaring Rampage of Rescue: With Minho getting kidnapped in the previous film, Thomas and the Gladers must rescue him.
- Rousing Speech: Lawrence gives one to his rebellion group before leading the attack on the Last City.
- Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Gally is not seen in any of the promotional materials, to preserve the surprise of his survival.
- Slow-Motion Fall: How Teresa's death is portrayed.
- Soft Glass: All over the place. If the plot doesn't require a window to be conveniently bulletproof, expect it to break at the slightest touch without the shards injuring anyone.
- Soft Water: When cornered by Janson in WCKD, Thomas, Minho, and Newt resolve the issue by breaking the window glass and jumping through it into a pool conveniently located nearby.
- Storming the Castle: The Gladers break into WCKD to rescue Minho.
- Taking You with Me: Lawrence knows he's Living on Borrowed Time, so he leads the final charge at the Last City's gates with a truck full of explosives.
- Time Skip: The film takes place one year after The Scorch Trials.
- To Absent Friends: At the end of the film, Vince leads a toast to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
- Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Janson rides the elevator with Teresa shortly before realizing that Thomas was right under his nose.
- Wham Shot:
- When Thomas, Newt, Frypan, Brenda, and Jorge are taken by a group of armed and masked people, one of them takes his mask off to reveal that he is Gally, alive and well.
- Newt revealing to Thomas his infected arm, meaning he will soon turn into a Crank.
- You Are Too Late: A cruel one. Thomas stabs Crank!Newt in self-defense. Not even five seconds later, Brenda arrives with a sample of the cure, but she's too late, as Newt is already dead.