Children/teens fighting for their lives due to some sort of dystopian issue isn’t my thing. I’ve read and seen the first Hunger Games book and movie but wasn’t craving the rest. I haven’t read or seen anything Divergent related, and same with The Maze Runner— until last night. Runner, based on the book series by James Dashner, regards a bunch of guys dropped one at a time into a grassy arena surrounded by a maze, which changes each night. They believe if they can solve the maze, they can return to their previous lives, though their memories have been wiped so it’s interesting they’re so desperate to get back to… what exactly?
The cast is a mix of familiars and unknowns depending on your interests. I didn’t recognize main character Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), though he stars in MTV’s Teen Wolf. Kaya Scodelario plays the arena’s sole female (Teresa), and it’s as if director Wes Ball really wanted Kristen Stewart. She’s aggressive, talks in a deep voice, and keeps her hair in her face, so I only thought I recognized Scodelario. Will Poulter, on the other hand, was hard not to recognize thanks to his flawless performance of “Waterfalls” in We’re The Millers. Unfortunately in Runner Poulter plays Gally, a fierce, rule-abiding leader who doesn’t break into TLC hits or find a spider in his pants. Also familiar was Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who played Newt. Yes, the adorable boy from Love, Actually has grown up to live in a mysterious grassy knoll filled with young men and zero signs of Christmas cheer or love or Liam Neeson.
It’s evident Runner is based on a book since it drops things so casually, like the fact that these robot-spider-scorpions called “Grievers” are living in the maze and sting people. The boys also use their own slang with no explanations, and it makes you wonder why make up lingo at all? If they really hope to return to normalcy, they should stick to speaking normally. At the end of the day, Runner is a wanna-be Lord of the Flies performed by monochromatic, dirty Gap models who are freakishly clean shaven even though they’ve lived outside for up to three years. If you’re into broody boys, robots, or henley style t-shirts, maybe watch Runner. Otherwise… maybe watch any of the other movies mentioned in this review.