Based on the best-selling young adult thriller, The Maze Runner is set in a post-apocalyptic world, where Thomas is deposited in a community of young men after his memory is erased. After learning they’re all trapped in a maze, Thomas joins forces with fellow “runners” to not only escape the maze, but solve its riddle and reveal the chilling secret of who brought them there, and why.
The film opens with the mysterious arrival of a young man into an all-male community on an underground lift. The boy is confused, scared and can’t remember his name nor how he got on that lift. The viewer is similarly confused (that is if you haven’t read the book first) and gets to learn more about this unsettling event while the boys explain what they know so far about their surroundings.
The boys call their community The Glade as they are in an open space in a forest. For years there’s been a regular pattern: every 30 days a new boy with an erased memory arrives via the lift. The first one to arrive there was Alby three years ago already. Since then they managed to sustain a self-contained community that has been fittingly compared to Lord of the Flies by others. It turns out that the settlement is situated in the centre of a giant maze. Not your ordinary maze though: the enormous metal walls open every morning and close each night, with other sections of the maze opening all the time. The so-called ‘maze runners’ run though the complex labyrinth in the hope to find a way out. Anyone who is stuck in the maze in the night gets ‘stung’ by the spider like androids roaming the maze which the boys call The Grievers. After being stung, one loses control over his own mind and body and turns into a maniac who will kill anyone in his way.
On the first night of Thomas’ arrival, maze runners Alby and Minho try to reach the camp before the walls of the maze close again, but Alby has been stung and can’t walk anymore. While the exit gets narrower and narrower, Thomas doesn’t hesitate and rushes inside the maze. Thomas and Minho manage to trick and destroy a Griever and leave the maze again the following morning with Alby. They take a device from the Griever back with them which seems to contain their first useful clue for their way out.
To everybody’s surprise, the steel lift comes up again in the morning and this time a girl, Teresa, arrives to The Glade. She’s holding a note saying: “She’s the last one. EVER”. Before she loses consciousness, Teresa recognises Thomas and says his name. Of course this raises suspicions with the rest of the boys, especially with the extremely hostile boy Gally. Slowly Thomas remembers more from his past and in flashbacks we see that he and Teresa did know each other before, but that they also knew of the maze’s existence.
After the arrival of Thomas and Teresa life in The Glades is violently disturbed resulting in a rupture of the group: one group follows Gally who blames the newcomers for the current turn of events while the opposing group believe in Thomas and that he can get them out of the maze. As the teens get further down in the darkness of the maze, they start to unravel its dark truth.
Based on the information I read prior to watching the film, I expected this Young Adult film to be merely interesting for a young audience. I had never heard of the book before, nor the director and only recognised a few names of the cast which consists mostly of teenagers. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this film. It starts off very strong as the viewer learns simultaneously with the main protagonist where he has arrived and what is happening to him. Yes, I did feel a strong resemblance to that other popular film based on a Young Adult book: The Hunger Games. With the arrival of Teresa I anticipated a love affair between her and Thomas, but to my relief there is not even a hint towards romance in this film. This may put off a great number of the female viewers though as this action-packed film is rather masculine. I think that the romance in The Hunger Games plays a great deal in the film’s success among teenagers. The action in The Maze Runner is intense, at times rather violent, and takes part on two different levels: first you have the physical threat of the Grievers, but then there’s also the psychological unrest in the group. The TV series Lost kept echoing in my mind because of the mysterious events taking place in a confined environment and the grim truth of the maze.
UK release date: 10 October 2014
Genre: action, mystery, science-fiction
Duration: 113 minutes
Director: Wes Ball
Distributor: 20th Century Fox