If you have a group of teenage boys who have been isolated and cut off from the rest of the world for three years and you put a girl in the middle, the results are always going to be interesting. Thankfully, The Maze Runner plays on the humour of the situation for a few scenes before moving on. Things could have become awkward otherwise.
The Maze Runner – directed by Wes Ball and released in 2014 – is based on the books by James Dashner. The plot follows Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) as he awakens to find himself in a clearing with no memory of who he is. As things are pieced together, he discovers he is just the latest in a long line – a new boy every month with the original boy – and their now appointed leader – arriving over three years ago. Leaving is not an option – the clearing is surrounded by an ever changing maze that, despite sending runners in every day to map it, hasn’t yet provided a route out.
The rest of the film naturally has things escalating from the form of peace and order that has been established in the clearing. Thomas refuses to accept there is no way out, risking life and limb to get into the maze himself and find out what is really going on. The results are not what he – or anyone else for that matter – expects and the situation escalates beyond all control.
The characterisation throughout the whole film was interesting. There seems – for the most part – to be no bad guy. There is the one who opposes everything Thomas does (Gally – played by Will Poulter) – but at the end of the day he offers very little threat and doesn’t prevent anything in the plot from happening. He doesn’t even manage to turn others against Thomas ultimately. Of course, there is the final twist when nothing is as it seems, but the most part everyone is working together.
For a film of young actors, there is a lot of up and coming talent. Dylan O’Brien brings Thomas to life realistically – his acting subtle with the knowledge of when a long, lingering look says more than any words would. Thomas Brodie-Sangster is a name cropping up everywhere at the moment – and his portrayal of Newt shows why. Another actor who knows how to play the one calm under pressure. The whole cast work well to bring to life the boys who have no idea what is going on and only want to find their way home – hints of vulnerabilities under the front all teenage boys put on.
The film is an enjoyable one. The pace is fast – literally – and there is enough danger and threat that it keeps you on the edge of your seat. There is also no guarantee of who is going to survive and a film that is prepared to kill off the “good guys” is always a gripping one for there is no guaranteed ending. However, it has followed the recent trend with young adult films. Rather than closing the film satisfyingly, it twists and opens it up to the sequel, an annoying trait.
Definitely a recommendation.