Get ready to run.
Hard on the heels of recent teen dystopias The Hunger Games and Divergent comes The Maze Runner, a post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure that shows an impressive turn of speed in places but runs out of puff before the finishing line.
The opening is certainly intriguing, with amnesiac 16-year-old hero Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) awakening in an ascending freight elevator that deposits him in the Glade, a grassy clearing enclosed by tall concrete walls and inhabited by a tribe of fellow teenage boys.
And the story remains absorbing as Thomas learns of the conditions in which they are all being held captive, of the impenetrable, ever-changing maze that lies beyond the Glade’s walls and of the various Lord of the Flies type cliques and factions among the boys.
The arrival of lone girl Teresa (Kaya Scodelario, The Truth About Emanuel, Wuthering Heights) piques our interest further, and there are thrills when Thomas defies obstinate bully Gally (Will Poulter) and braves the spiderlike creatures occupying the maze in a bid to find a way out.
Yet having taken us so far, the film then delivers an infuriating ending that undermines much of the preceding narrative but sets things up for a sequel. Young Adult novelist James Dashner’s bestseller on which the film is based is the first in a trilogy. The second movie is already in pre-production, but as an ongoing cinematic series it remains to be seen whether The Maze Runner has legs.
Certificate 12A. Runtime 112 mins. Director Wes Ball.