Scorch Trials picks up literally where its predecessor left off, as Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and friends are ferried into a large complex, where supposedly anti-WCKD Aiden Gillen is transporting kids to safety. It doesn’t take long for the wheels to come off though, and Thomas and friends head out into the desert, searching for answers.
For the first half hour, Scorch Trials retains the lean, mean, propulsive style of Maze Runner. But once they head into the wild, the film begins to lose its way. The group encounters new characters and locations, none of which are given time to breathe, before they’re running off to the next locale. A handful of top-level character actors get to sink their teeth into some cameos, but few are able to elevate their characters above standard tropes.
The film looks fantastic – no expense was spared on production and effects. And the acting performances are never rote or wooden. But where Runner felt tight and taut, Trials feels every one of its overstuffed, flabby 131 minutes. It never rises above its position as the bridge in a trilogy, hamstrung by being unable to provide answers to the mysteries that make this series so compelling.