Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) and his friends from the Glade (Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden) lead a dangerous mission into the heart of WCKD's operations - the Last City - where they must rescue their friend, Minho (Ki Hong Lee).
Young adult adaptations briefly threatened comic-book movies as the Next Big Thing for studios, but it quickly became apparent that the limited appeal - namely, fellow young adults - and the bland and derivative stories that were being adapted wasn't going to translate into major box office success. Still, contracts were signed and these franchises limped on with Maze Runner: The Death Cure being the last to finish off.
From the opening sequence, which involves Dylan O'Brien, Giancarlo Esposito and Barry Pepper lead a well-choreographed sequence of stunts involving a train and some shooting, it's clear that director Wes Ball is servicing the fans of this franchise and no-one else. In fact, the previous two films were so unmemorable that unless you're up on the whole thing, you're merely watching pyrotechnics and drawn-out exposition for about over a hundred minutes. Like the previous entry - Scorch Trials - what keeps the film mildly interesting is the action sequences, but it's the endless acting and gurning for the camera between them that makes the film more forgettable.
With the right director and script, Dylan O'Brien could have an interesting performance in him, but it isn't this and it's not here. Likewise, we know from Wolf Hall and Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit that both Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Will Poulter are fine actors and capable of delivering compelling, nuanced portrayals. Again, the same thing that lets down the young actors is the same thing that lets the cast members over the age of thirty - specifically Pepper, Esposito, Patricia Clarkson and a horrific-looking Walton Goggins who isn't the film half enough and is by far the most interesting character out of all of them. Our own Aiden Gillen, meanwhile, flicks between accents from scene to scene and gives the usual amount of hammy acting you'd expect.
Director Wes Ball and writer T.S. Nowlin bear the brunt of Death Cure's failings, as the film is done in such a generic, cookie-cutter fashion that there isn't the least bit of suspense or drama to be had throughout. Even without any prior knowledge of the film, you can see the narrative play out in the most predictable fashion, and the direction doesn't do anything to spice it up. Moreover, the sheer lack of character development throughout the entire series means that it's impossible to care about what happens to everyone in the film. If someone dies or is infected, so what? Nobody knows who they are and the film doesn't give the audience a chance to get to know them. It's a real shame, because they're working with decent actors who are more than capable, but the writing and direction is so poor that they're all let down by it.