Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the second act of the Maze Runner trilogy adaptations. Ask any writer and they’ll tell you that the second act is always a tricky one. It’s the point where things have to get a little down and dirty but more than anything it’s where the crux of the story happens. At least that’s the case for most Act Twos.
Scorch Trials picks up straight after the events of the first film with Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his group of maze survivors escaping the evil company WICKED, and yes it is hard to stomach that the bad guys are called that, and living in a seemingly safe environment. However nothing is quite what it seems. Although actually it is because their landlord is played by Aidan Gillen who is on such villainous form he may as well be twirling his moustache while stroking a white cat.
So Thomas et al decide it’s time to rescue Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and get the hell out of dodge. But in getting out they find themselves in the wasteland that is The Scorch. And slowly, glacially so, the plot thickens as it seems all the kids in the maze are harvesting the cure for the deadly virus that has turned much of humanity into rage-like, infected zombies.
As with the first Maze Runner film Scorch Trials is chock-full of great set-pieces, interesting characters and a plot so seemingly unimportant it’s best left unaddressed. But that is Scorch Trials biggest downfall. It spends so long trying to keep the bigger mystery of what really happened to the world a secret that you are left scratching your head as to why WICKED are in fact the villains. Sure, they are harvesting kids but it’s all in the name of finding a cure for the global outbreak that threatens to wipe out all of humanity.
The result is much for Scorch unfolding like a video game. We go from one level to the next with blistering action to tie it all together. In fact so like a video game is it that at one point you feel a strong sense of déjà vu of the hugely successful post-apocalyptic game The Last Of Us, right down to the freaky plant infested humans on offer.
Scorch’s weak point therefore leads to its strongest. It’s a vibrant and exciting world, a world in which with every new level you meet new characters. All of whom you either root for or suspect of something sinister.
As with the first installment the cast are excellent but it is Dylan O’Brien who carries much of it on his young shoulders. There’s no doubt that he’s a very interesting and engaging actor in the making, an actor who is adept at action as he is pensive brooding.
With The Hunger Games having called game over the Maze Runner Young Adult franchise seems to be building to something special. The only thing is The Scorch Trials needs to turn the heat right up to really make things hot to touch.