The Maze Runner is an entertaining action thriller which only suffers with being too reminiscent of other recent films in this genre.
When Thomas wakes up in a cage with no memory of who he is and how he got there, he quickly learns that he and many other young boys are trapped in a maze. The only hope to escape is through the mapping of the ‘runners’. Thomas hopes to join them and escape the maze…
Based on James Dashner’s novel, The Maze Runner is a dystopian action film aimed at a teenage audience. The premise of the film offers viewers enough of a hook. The central question of why these boys have been sent to such an environment sustains the audience’s attention for a good portion of the film.
Protagonist Thomas is strong enough to carry the film in that it is immediately clear that there is more to him. The Maze Runner offers an ensemble of young characters. Many of these are archetypes. Thomas and Gally are suitably developed to make them appear authentic, although Gally’s transformation does seem accelerated at the very end of the film. The Maze Runner is well paced for the most part, even if the ending feels a bit melodramatic in contrast to what has preceded it.
Themes in The Maze Runner are redolent of other recent dystopian blockbusters such as The Hunger Games. There is a preoccupation with teenagers being made to suffer unduly, which underlines both this film and recent others. Moreover, that the film will continue on to something else seems almost mandatory. Art direction in the film is good, particularly the industrial look of the maze. Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee and Will Poulter offer decent performances.
Ultimately, any lack of success endured by The Maze Runner will be likely down to the fact that it feels unoriginal in the scope of its sub-genre. Really, the film misfires only in its release so soon after similar pictures.