Several years ago I reviewed The Maze Runner. The only thing it was good at was being forgettable.
Let’s do a quick plot recap so that we know where we stand going into the third and final movie of this epic science fiction trilogy. Okay, so there was bland dude who was just the bestest special person to have ever existed. His mom squirted him out with a main character card tattooed on his mediocre ass. His name was Thomas, but let’s call him Blandon. Then there was Jojen Reed just being positively British all over the place. Aaaaaand I recall a surprisingly diverse cast of other dudes (yes, all dudes) about whom I remember nothing else. They’re all dropped in a safe village in the middle of a maze with no memories. Some of them go running around the maze (get it? THE MAZE RUNNER!!!) to find supplies or something while cyborg spider monsters try to eat them. New dudes are dropped in occasionally, and Blandon’s the latest.
Then one day a woman gets dropped in with them. If you squinted really really hard, you could almost tell it wasn’t Kristen Stewart. The character probably had some other point, but all I recall is that she exists so that all the boys can say “OMG it’s a girl!” and for us to assume her and Blandon are going to make out. Then like three days after he got there Blandon goes into a catatonically uninspiring cut and paste of “we’ll fight them on the beaches this is our independence day they cannot take our freedom once more unto the breach” and inspires them to run through the maze and escape because in the years the others had been there, it never occurred to them to like try or something. It’s not their fault, they weren’t the main character.
Turns out the outside is a post-apocalyptic wasteland. What a twist! We pick up on the story in the sequel The Scorch Trials. I didn’t see it. On the one hand, some might say that it is a movie reviewer’s duty to see the second movie if he is going to review the third. On the other hand, those holding that opinion should drink Drano.
The rest of this review is going to be completely full of spoilers. If you really care about what happens in 3 Maze 3 Runner (h/t the illustrious TK) then you should stop reading. Or go read the book it’s based on. The book is always better. That’s just science.
This movie is AMAZING. I don’t mean it’s in any way a good movie, but there’s something kind of inspiring about them knowing full well this franchise sucks and no one cares but somehow they got the money to make a third. So instead of playing it tongue in cheek, or grinding out the final installment for a paycheck, the filmmakers seem to have just snorted cocaine, called in every casting favor they had stockpiled, and treated the entire thing as if they were making Return of the King. Two and a half hours. By god, they knew it sucked, but that didn’t mean they weren’t going to film an epic.
So, we pick up in Fallout. Like, literally. I think they rendered the whole thing by plugging one of the old Fallout games into a super computer. The palette, the look and feel, the vehicles, the landscape. It is indistinguishable from Fallout. Blandon has acquired the obligatory ragtag band of freedom fighters who are going to break a friend out of a prison transport train. He’s got Barry Pepper with him! I honestly thought Pepper had died after Battlefield Earth by John Travolta eating his brain with fava beans to appease Xenu for his sins.
They steal a vertibird (yes, this whole movie really is in the Fallout universe as far as I can tell) and then just fly off with one of the train cars. The good news is that the masked storm ninja bad guys went to Stormtrooper school and couldn’t aim well enough to shoot themselves in the head. The bad news is that the train car doesn’t have the dude they were really after. Which is weird because Blandon picked that car because it was the first one he ran up to and when he yelled “BFF are you in there?” the whole car yelled back. Bunch of lying ass prisoners being carted to horrible deaths. The entire movie is positively rife with this sort of decision making. At some point it wraps around from being bad writing to just being the stupidest people who have ever existed. They’re so stupid that it’s impossible to tear your eyes away from their stupidity.
Anyway, Blandon’s all like “but Sergeant Pepper we have to go save Minho!” And Sergeant Pepper is like LOL nope, we’ve got a ship and we’re going to sail to freedom. I was assuming that Minho was the secret to something, like he had the plans to the Death Star or was the super genius who could hack the Matrix. But no, it’s just that Blandon’s in love with him. I assume. Really, it is absolutely the only explanation that makes the plot make sense.
Two things should be noted at this juncture. First, Minho has incredible hair. Like, this is Ben Wyatt or season two Angel levels of poofiness. His hair is combs down the best character in the movie. Second, despite there being a nominal love triangle between Blandon, not-Bella, and a new-to-me wasteland warrior we’ll call Mildosa, Blandon only has eyes for Minho and Jojen. We were an oiled up volleyball scene away from this being Top Gun levels of homoerotic man love driving the entire plot.
So any who, Blandon runs off in the middle of the night with main-character adjacent characters on a suicide mission to save Minho. One of whom is Gus from Breaking Bad, because everyone is in this movie. At this point I learned that the apocalyptic part of the post-apocalypse was a virus that turns people into zombies. Remember feral ghouls from Fallout? Yep, that’s what the infected are.
Minho and his hair are being held by - holy shirt balls, what is with this cast? - Patricia Clarkson, Aidan Gillen, and eh not-Bella. The latter apparently betrayed the good guys in the last movie and now works as a doctor in a snazzy lab torturing the ever living shit out of Minho in order to extract something from his blood. Yep, terror-induced anti-virals, there’s so much legit science in this fiction y’all. And I don’t want to shock you, but Littlefinger ends up being untrustworthy and manipulative. Way to play against type Aidan.
Here’s where the logic kind of gets incredible. See, the bad guys are scientists trying to find a cure to the disease wiping out humanity. The good guys are the people who are immune to the disease who don’t want to be locked up and tortured. Holy false dichotomy Batman, could you come up with a more contrived anti-science set-up?
“The ends justify the means! Torture torture torture!”
“Have you tried doing viral research without torturing the patients?”
“Well look who thinks they’re a doctor now!”
So Blandon’s Raiders end up in the fabled Last City, which has a giant wall around it to protect the science fascists from the infected. It takes approximately 17 seconds of screen time to find a way in. And that way in is Walton Fucking Goggins. (See above, everyone is in this movie). He’s playing mutant Boyd Crowder. Poor guy, doesn’t even have a nose.
There then proceeds to be a solid hour of actually not that bad action scenes as the Blandits stage a convoluted heist involving kidnapping not-Bella, threatening her for info, sneaking back in with her, and then rescuing a bunch more prisoners. But Minho’s been transferred for more torture research and Blandon will not leave without the man he loves. And his hair.
Cranes lift city buses over the wall! Littlefinger is foiled! Hundreds of masked extras are bloodlessly massacred by our heroes! Sewers are snuck through! Mutant Goggins gives his own “this is OUR independence day” and then suicide bombs the wall! Mildosa has a car chase! Heroes are separated! Then find each other again! Multiple characters insist others go on without them, while said other refuse to leave anyone behind. It’s Band of Fallout Brothers up in here! So many single solitary tears run down faces you could stave off a drought. Invasion! Buildings disintegrating! The blood-dimmed tide is loosed! Mere anarchy is loosed upon Torture Town! Littlefinger gets eaten by zombies! SERGEANT PEPPER COMES BACK WITH GUS TO SAVE THE DAY!
Sorry, got ahead of myself in all the excitement.
Turns out Blandon’s blood is the cure for the virus. Not-Bella figures this out because she happens to know that Mildosa was infected in the last movie, notices she’s okie dokie artichoky now and announces literally on an emergency loud speaker through the entire city that has descended into a war zone that Blandon’s blood must have cured her. It’s obviously the only possible explanation. SCIENCE.
There are three options here. First, Mildosa got his blood through a transfusion, which is impossible because no one in this world is intelligent enough to set up a blood transfusion. Second, she’s a vampire, which seems unlikely since we’ve seen her in daylight and she doesn’t sparkle. Third, they be bangin. Which also seems unlikely since they have no chemistry and barely share a scene with each other. But as that ancient Vulcan proverb goes, once you’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever remains must be true.
So when Jojen inevitably ends up with the virus, and goes full Hershel’s barn on Blandon in the middle of trying to escape from the war zone they themselves created, I may have started screaming in the middle of the theater, “make love to Jojen! It’s the only way to save him now!” But sadly it was not to be, for the fire in Blandon’s loins only sparks for Minho’s hair.
And then not-Bella dies as the hundred story building they’re on top of collapses beneath her just as Blandon manages to make it to the Vertibird. Damn, did not see that coming, but the filmmakers had really thrown all shits to the wind by the end of this thing. But it serves her right, what with all her sciencing. I think Jenny McCarthy must have an EP credit on this thing. Blandon passes out from his obligatory non-fatal gunshot, swooning dramatically in Minho’s arms as Sergeant Pepper flies them to the happy ending. But not THAT happy ending. We’re so on the PG side of PG-13 in this thing.
Blandon wakes up on Sergeant Pepper’s island where we have to have a solid ten minute epilogue. This movie has more endings than Return of the King did. Blandon gets to read a gushing goodbye letter from Jojen so hot it would have gotten a man prison time in the nineteenth century. Everyone’s safe and saved and finally bathed. All the immune people are now on an island while the rest of the world burns down with cannibal holocaust fever. And Blandon has the only copy to the cure that not-Bella made out of his blood sitting in his pocket. While the rest of the world dies. Big damned heroes, amirite?
So to summarize, three movies and an apocalypse would have been averted if the doctors had just taken a blood sample of this dude in the first place. How did that conversation go?
“This guy is immune. Should we maybe take a blood sample?”
“Bear with me here: we build a giant maze with murder monsters, erase his memory, and see if he can find his way out of the maze.”
“And then what?”
“It’s like you’re not even trying to science.”
I can only assume that the team behind this was Krieger clones.
The movie ends dramatically, with Blandon mournfully looking out at the ocean, rolling around in his hands the only cure to the disease killing billions of people. You can tell he’s contemplating going back, being a hero. “I can do it,” you can almost hear him tell himself, “I can fuck the virus out of ALL of them.”
Dr. Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at www.burningviolin.com. You can email him here.