This second instalment in another post-apocalyptic YA trilogy makes no concession to those who have not been keeping up, throwing us into the maelstrom with its young stars. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and friends have escaped the maze in which they were trapped, but outside the world is in chaos. Solar flares have scorched the planet and a somehow related virus has transformed much of humanity into zombie-like monsters. The sinister WCKD organisation (not to be confused with the alcopop brand) needs our hero’s brain fluids to effect a cure. Cue a complicated conspiracy.
Like the makers of ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent’, director Wes Ball bolsters his young cast with character actor stalwarts (Patricia Clarkson, Aidan Gillen, Lili Taylor). But as his cast strike picturesque poses on hilltops – surely unwise when on the run? – it becomes clear that his real focus is on striking visuals and nods to Spielberg, in which respect the film delivers far beyond its budget. Still, with virtually no first act and an ‘Empire Strikes Back’-style cliffhanger, it’s a film hamstrung by its own unravel-the-conspiracy premise.