Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario, Ki Hong Lee, Patricia Clarkson (Rated M – 113 min).
Unpredictable intriguing suspenseful adaptation from the young adult novel series grabs your attention from the opening scene. Hitting top gear early, one would think the movie has to deflate at some point – wrong. The stylised action is upheld from the get-go.
Waking up in an accelerating elevator cage not knowing his name or how he got there, a teenager is introduced at the surface to The Glade. An open area of grass, forest and crops where a ‘Lord of the Flies’ like tribe of young men coexist within surrounding moveable barrier walls. Adjusting is not easy for the new guy (Dylan O’Brien) who eventually remembers he is Thomas when curiosity starts to take control. Once a day, the walls part when selected runners go inside the maze structure to map out a possible exist.
Timeframes upon return remain strict due to the roaming of monsters known as grievers within the maze at night where nobody has ever survived the evening out when curfew is missed. A surprise arrival of the first ever girl to The Glade sends shock-waves to the routine drama-free ways of the community. She also seems to know her name is Teresa, recognises Thomas and is holding a cryptic note spelling possible doom.
The film goes into thrill mode when a run through the maze reveals the Grievers as mechanical scorpion gatekeepers, further in truths become imminent as the set up for a sequel becomes obvious. Future superstars O’Brien of televisions Teen Wolf and especially Kaya Scodelario as Teresa are part of a fantastic all round array of perfect youth casting. British impressionist Will Poulter is despicable as Gally, the hothead of the tribe and do you remember that smiley kid in Christmas classic Love Actually who hangs out with Liam Neeson? It’s him (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) all grown up as Newt.
Great movie with quality production design and the power to thrill. Only gripe: not enough of Patricia Clarkson. Bring on the next installment.
Shane A. Bassett