The Maze Runner, which hit our cinemas last year, revelled in the notion of mystery, being a film in which the enjoyment was derived from what we didn’t know, as opposed to what we did. Posing several questions along the way and keeping the audience on their toes, the eagerly anticipated sequel could not be more different in that regard, far away from the elusive, guessing game the first posed – this digs deeper into the story and the context, building up a comprehensive world to place this tale – and surprisingly, it’s all the better for it, as we become immersed in its dystopian, post-apocalyptic future.
With Wes Ball back on directing duties, we reconnect with our hero Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), who, alongside Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Minho (Ki Hong Lee) amongst others, seek in finding solace after breaking free of the Maze – with their days on the Glade seeming like a deranged, distant memory. That’s largely thanks to Janson (Aidan Gillen) who takes them in and offers them food and shelter, declaring himself an enemy of the powerful and nefarious organisation WCKD – head by Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson). However the longer Thomas and company stay in this restrictive confinement, they begin to question Jason’s motives, not quite sure who they can trust, and they’d be better off running away from – sharpish.
The one thing this title does share with its predecessor, is just how fast-paced and unrelenting it is, while Ball has continued to prove himself as one of the freshest, most promising voices on the blockbuster circuit, arguably turning in a more accomplished display than either Gareth Edwards or Colin Trevorrow managed with Godzilla and Jurassic World, respectively. He simply knows how to entertain, with a true commitment – and conviction – to unadulterated excitement on the silver screen, displaying such traits without any sense of contrivance nor cynicism. He’s helped along by a magnetic performance from O’Brien, who demands the attention of the viewer at all times, being an absorbing leading man – much like the man helming the production – and is a true star in the making.
In a market overcrowded with superfluous sequels that tend to provoke a rolling of the eyes above anything else – it’s refreshing and rewarding to be able to say that next year’s addition to this franchise really could not come soon enough – and just how often can we say that?