The Scorch Trials never really ignites, but this James Dashner-adapted dystopian sci-fi actioner still provides a competent middle-of-the-road sequel to last year’s slightly superior first film.
This time Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow ‘Gladers’ – including Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and Newt (Love Actually’s Thomas Brodie-Sangster) – are looking for clues that will lead them to the mysterious organisation known as WCKD, after escaping the maze.
That’s because their rescuers (led by Aidan Gillen’s Janson) – who are looking for a cure to the plague that has swept through the world known as the ‘Flare’ – seem to be using them for experimentation purposes instead of providing them with a promised new life.
So the gang – who pick up mysterious kid Aris (Jacob Lofland) at the facility – make a daring escape that takes them outside into a desolate and unforgiving landscape known as the ‘Scorch’.
As they look for a group of rebels that may have a safe haven in the mountains, out-manoeuvring the harsh, booby-trap-filled, terrain is the least of their worries, especially when they come across ‘Cranks’ – infected people that have turned into aggressive zombies.
And with WCKD on their tail – aiming to reacquire their prized possessions due to their potential to be ‘immune’ from infection – they must try and stay alive as they look for answers to their existence.
Along the way they come across two factions, one led by Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito – whose adopted ‘daughter’ Brenda (Rosa Salazar) provides Thomas with a distracting love interest – and the other by Saving Private Ryan’s Barry Pepper, who just may be able to put the pieces of their puzzle back together, and help them offer resistance against their hi-tech enemies.
O’Brien again proves to be a competently amiable lead – despite his ability to pull off a bewildering pensive look with immense regularity – as this just about provides enough thrills and spills to be a tidy filler in the Maze Runner trilogy sandwich.
The undead ‘Cranks’ are a quite impressively scary inclusion (parents who want to take their younger children to this 12A flick beware), but are just about the only thing that sets this apart from it’s competition – and it still lacks the polish of Hunger Games.
But despite falling foul of genre tropes, the trials and tribulations of these youngsters do just about enough to keep the fire burning and leave you hankering for the final part. That’s if that doesn’t get split into two like the rest of them.
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Gavin Miller [youtube id=”SDofO3P2HpE” width=”600″ height=”350″]
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aidan Gillen, Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Giancarlo Esposito, Jacob Lofland, Rosa Salazar, Alan Tudyk, Lili Taylor, Patricia Clarkson & Nathalie Emmanuel
Running Time: 2 Hrs 11 Mins
Director: Wes Ball