What does The Maze Runner want to be? At first glance it seems like a dystopian update of Lord of the Flies, with its society of adolescent males fending for themselves in a (fabricated) wilderness. But it lacks that book’s balls. Is the titular maze, which the boys must navigate to find their way out, supposed to be an elevated response to The Hunger Games’ arena? Because Catching Fire raised those stakes with their tick-tock-it’s-a-clock arena. Is this a futuristic tale of
torturing training scrappy little smarties because they’re our future, à la Divergent? Because let me tell you now, you won’t be invested enough in this film to care what kind of future the stars are supposed to be saving.
This dystopian world (based on James Dashner’s book of the same name) is too jumbled to retain any sense of structure—ironic, for a story about a maze penning in the protagonists. Many narrative elements from Dashner’s series are lost in translation, making for a movie that seems to suffer from an identity crisis.