The Maze Runner (2014)
Directed by Wes Ball
A first-time director and three first-time screenwriters team up with a cast of young breakthrough acting talents in one of the biggest surprises of the year, “The Maze Runner.” Having read the book (which was far too YA for my liking and a decision I now regret), the movie’s most intense moments came as no surprise. Even that didn’t take the edge completely off, but had I gone into it without knowing the full story I would’ve been completely blown away.
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) is dropped into the middle of a giant maze, unaware of where he came from or any personal details about himself. He’s surrounded by dozens of boys about his age, all living in the Glade, a peaceful enough area in the maze’s center. But the maze is seemingly unbeatable, and what lies beyond the moving walls of their humble abode are too frightening to talk about. As he and the other boys (including Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aml Ameen, and Ki Hong Lee) try to find the answers to everyone’s questions (Who put them here and why? How do they get out?), a few shocking twists will rock the Glade and put some urgency into their mission.
In James Dashner’s 2007 YA novel, immature actions and silly Glade lingo (which was intended to replace cussing) watered down a very real, very adult story. Thankfully, the moviemakers had the sense to make “The Maze Runner” a PG-13 movie that adults can enjoy as well as teens. The movie said away with most of these nonsense words in favor of the vulgarities that would really be said in these dire situations. This cast of young men handle themselves with such grace, any pettiness that characters seemed to have in the novel disappear when their lines are spoken. While Poulter (known for his hilarious role in 2013’s “We’re the Millers”) doesn’t quite have the dramatic gumption to pull off his antagonistic role as Gally (without coming across as forcing it), the rest of the men don’t look back once they hit their stride. The emotion brought forward in the tense story and beautiful score are given life by the young men starring in one of the most well-rounded ensembles of the year. Not the best, but perhaps the most fun. They have the chemistry they need.
The most thrilling maze-running scenes send your pulse racing, thanks to Enrique Chediak’s dynamic (yet intimate) cinematography and a beautiful score. If your heart isn’t thumping out of your chest, you must not have one. While it might not keep you engrossed for its entire two-hour runtime, “The Maze Runner” will hit you with fits of thrilling, adrenaline-pumping fun.
Go out and get wrapped up in the mystery and the fun of “The Maze Runner.”
“The Maze Runner” is in theaters.