Film review: The Maze Runner

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Based on the bestselling novel by James Dashner, The Maze Runner is a testosterone-fuelled survival thriller cast from the same robust mould as The Hunger Games and Divergent.

Like those dystopian nightmares, Wes Ball’s film centres on naive characters, teetering on the cusp of adulthood, who are forced to make stark choices between life and death to secure freedom.

Undated Film Still Handout from The Maze Runner. Pictured:  Dylan O'Brian, Kaya Scodelario. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Fox UK Film. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews

Undated Film Still Handout from The Maze Runner. Pictured: Dylan O'Brian, Kaya Scodelario. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Fox UK Film. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews

While The Hunger Games and Divergent expended valuable time establishing character back stories and motivations, this opening salvo of The Maze Runner employs a nifty cheat: amnesia.

All of the protagonists are stripped bare of memories including their identity, emerging from the darkness of a lift shaft into an enclosed green space called The Glade as blank slates.

“I can’t remember anything,” whimpers newbie Thomas (Dylan O’Brien).

“You get your name back in a day or two. It’s the one thing they let us keep,” explains Alby (Aml Ameen), the de facto leader, who emerged into this strange prison three years ago.

Gargantuan walls enclose The Glade and every morning, one wall parts to reveal a maze which ‘runners’ like Minho (Ki Hong Lee) map while avoiding the hideous Grievers.