This sequel to The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is a far bigger and ballsier effort than its predecessor – where the original’s Young Adult book roots were all too obvious, this second film feels like a full-on adult action flick.
The story starts just seconds after the end of The Maze Runner with our ‘gladers’ – including Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Kaya Scodelario – plucked to apparent safety by Aidan Gillen and his band of well-armed heavies.
As this is the middle entry in a trilogy you’ll have guessed that things aren’t quite that straightforward and it’s not long before our youthful adventurers are once again on the run from WCKD.
Their journey across a ruined, apocalyptic landscape culminates in the discovery of their foe’s ultimate game-plan, a reasonably well played betrayal and a setup for what we assume to be the final confrontation between Thomas (O’Brien) and WCKD head honcho Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson).
Brodie-Sangster and Scodelario do their best with what are pretty shallow roles as O’Brien’s Thomas once again dominates both the story and the film’s action sequences as the actor continues his journey from TV sidekick to leading man.
The plot suffers from the curse of all trilogy middle-entries of having to move events on from the first film and set up the final chapter while also trying to tell a distinct story which won’t leave audiences feeling shortchanged.
So it’s a shame that Wes Ball opts not to show how our heroes escape a couple of near-miss moments but instead takes refuge in a couple of odd edits which leap past mini cliff-hangers and asks his audience to just be happy things turned out fine even if we don’t quite know how that happened.
Picky viewers might also spot that a couple of key plot developments are shamelessly hung on nothing but sheer co-incidence but probably no more so than your average Bond film.
However there’s no escaping from the fact that Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is a decently paced, enjoyable and well acted CGI-fest which its target audience will love.
In cinemas from September 10th.