"The Maze Runner"
Directed by Wes Ball
“The Maze Runner” opens with a frightened and confused teenage boy, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), waking up in a small lift, rising from deep below the ground. The box finally stops and opens to a large field surrounded by four walls. The field or “Glade” is home to a group of boys called “Gladers” who all came to the area, located in a massive maze, the same way Thomas came, with no memory of their lives before waking up in the same lift. Thomas becomes obsessed with finding out who put him in the maze and how he can escape. It quickly becomes apparent, though, that Thomas’ arrival at the Glade has set even greater events in motion. Between exciting action scenes and heavy plot, “The Maze Runner” takes its audience through a confusing journey, following the pursuits of this lost teen.
Based on the best-selling novel by James Dashner, “The Maze Runner” is filled with mystery after mystery for the Gladers. With mechanical monsters trying to kill them at every turn and intricate puzzles to figure out, there is much to capture the audience’s attention. The action sequences in the film are beautifully done and constantly keep audiences on the edge of their seats. The editing and camera work emphasize the action, with great direction by Wes Ball, who took on his first feature-length film as a director with this project. For example, in one scene, Thomas and fellow resident of the Glade, Minho (Ki Hong Lee), are running through the maze while the doors are closing, and the fast-changing camera angles and cuts only make the action more thrilling.
Unfortunately, many of the film’s mysteries are for the audience: The narrative of the film is thin and unhelpful in solving the mysteries set forth by the plot. Many times throughout the film, an important piece of information is revealed but only half explained. As a result, the viewer is left with questions about most aspects of the plot.
In terms of acting quality, O’Brien lacks chemistry with most of the characters. Thomas’ relationship with young Glader Chuck (Blake Cooper) resembles a big-brother, little-brother relationship, but the chemistry does not come through. While Cooper charms the audience with adorable actions and lines, such as talking about how much he wished he knew his parents, when he talks to O’Brien it seems as though Thomas could not care less about what Chuck has to say. Even the dynamic between Teresa (Kayla Scodelario), the first girl to ever arrive at the Glade, and Thomas, which is assumed to be a romantic relationship, comes off as friendship at best.
Ultimately, the main issue within “The Maze Runner” is time. With more time, there could have been more development with the cast in general and more plot follow-through. The exciting action sequences act as a saving grace for the movie as a whole, almost covering up the holes in the narrative and chemistry. The film’s plot creates meaningful lessons for audiences, including what freedom truly means and standing up for what you believe in, and includes plot twists that will make audiences wish for a sequel with the answers to all the questions left unanswered.
With thin dialogue and an ill-conceived plot, “The Maze Runner” keeps audiences itching for more information and leaves them feeling cut short, searching for insights on the members of this dystopian society. But, with exciting action sequences and outstanding individual performances, the film does not disappoint the action-seeking moviegoer.