Home > Index > Action | Mystery | Sci-Fi | Thriller > Movie Review

Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Run, Dick, run.

The Maze Runner

Plot Overview

“Greenie” is a clean slate emerging (“Rise and shine”) from a cage elevator into a glade inhabited by other teen­aged boys, enclosed by high concrete walls. He runs for the gap (“Hey, we gotta runner”) but is tackled before he makes it. His memory had been wiped, as had every­body else's, before he was sent up here. The others assure him he'll get his name back in a day or two. In the mean­time, they explain their situation: We eat here; we sleep here; we build our own shelters; once a month a new recruit arrives. The three rules of their society are: Do your part; never harm another Glader; never go beyond these walls. “Welcome to the Glade,” they tell him. “We're trapped here, aren't we?” he replies. “For the moment.”

When he remembers his name Thomas (Dylan O'Brien), he carves it on the wall along­side some thirty-six others who'd arrived during the last three years, a few of them having been crossed out. Those are the ones who'd gone out­side the wall into the sur­roun­ding maze and hadn't made it back by night­fall when the walls close up (“If you're trapped in the maze over­night, the Grievers get you and you die.”) Only a special cate­gory called “runners” are even allowed to explore the maze during the day. They've mapped its every angle but so far have not found a way out.

I suppose a rat in a maze has no idea how he's being played, but we humans can at least speculate on “every­thing that's happened to you … every­thing we've done to you … it was all done for a reason.” This is a single-generation test group, all white except for Alby (Aml Ameen of “Red Tails”), but although he's the black minority member, he's in the top dog slot by virtue of his having arrived first. They're all males except for one latest arrival (“It's a girl!”) Teresa (Kaya Scodelario). Here the chick is actually a minority (of one), not just a pretend minority in the world where women with the greater longevity out­number men. The only way out is through the maze, if there even is an exit. And there lies the danger of death. It looks to me set up as an experiment to discover how this group—and there may be others—will exchange liberty for security. If they stay in the glade, they are safe. Or are they?

My guess is since they are allowed to remember their own names, their controllers might be vain enough to use the real name of their organi­zation, or at least its initials, on matériel they send up: W.C.K.D. (pronounced wicked in half-remembered murky dreams.) The ‘D’ at the end would be for Department, of course. There aren't that many words starting with the beginning ‘W’. We can pretty much discount Welcome and Welfare. That leaves either World or Weapons depending on whether its a govern­mental department or one of the military-industrial complex. Hey, take your pick.

In tenor this movie resembles the song, “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” A cowboy heard the “mournful cry” of the ghost riders, just as we hear the fell cry of the Grievers. The cattle were mechanical hybrids whose “breath was made of fire and whose hooves were made of steel.” I don't think those Grievers were any­thing natural, either. The curse of the ghost riders was “they had to ride forever … trying to catch the Devil's herd.” Here in “Maze” after having exhausted all other possibilities, they are left with the option of killing a Griever to find out what they are up against. At least they're not in cowboy hell, this seems more like hippie Purgatory with eventual escape possible through suffering.


Since we're clued in on the makeup of the study group, and since they are confined to a compound, it wouldn't hurt to ask our­selves if perhaps they have a Jewish component. Aside from Thomas the only one with a quint­essential Jewish name—they only go by first names or nick­names—is Ben (Chris Sheffield.) He's the one with a murky memory of Thomas (“This is all your fault. I saw you.”) that surfaced when he was stung by a Griever. It's the Jews' history and tradition that give them their identity. In this movie the camera shots of the Grievers focus on their mouth and feet. The mouth is ravenous, not one for chewing the cud. The feet are a single spike, not a cloven hoof. Both criteria define them as "unclean" per Jewish dietary rules, not that one would want to hunt them with spears in the first place.

Concerning the plot there is a weird correspondence to Malachi, at the end of the Old Testament, that every Jewish boy is familiar with: Growing up “as calves of the stall” (Malachi 4:2) is their essential lot, “Tread[ing] down the wicked” (Malachi 4:3) is their goal with W.C.K.D., and following the camp rules (Malachi 4:4) is their existence. The linch­pin is, (Malachi 4:5-6) “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Thomas came from an earlier realm, as would Elijah. There was rumor of a world catastrophe that sparked the extreme measures of this experiment. All that the kids retained was their names given to them by their fathers & mothers. A young boy named Chuck (Blake Cooper) made a figurine for his parents even though he says, “I can't miss them, because I don't remember them.” This may seem awful thin, but remember that's all the link we're given, so we might want to take its formulaic nature seriously.

There's a rich tradition of Elijah as a precursor, and Thomas does show up just ahead of Teresa. Elijah's remembered by Jews every year at their seder by a chair left empty in anticipation of his arrival. The first Pass­over was marked with blood of the passover lamb spread on the lintel and door­posts of the house to avert the avenging angel after the first­born. In “Maze” it is Thomas and Teresa they want to stake in front of the door to the maze as “an offering,” risking the judgment of Ex. 22:20, in spite of them having a goat they could have used (Lev. 3:12). Alby is the "first­born" Glader, in much jeopardy.

We should consider that Joshua led the Israelites to surround and defeat the double-walled city of Jericho. Here this group is surrounded by the double-walled maze. Joshua's battle was in fact immediately preceded by a Passover feast (Joshua 5:10.)

Thomas followed wisdom being a “curious one,” along the lines of the wisdom book, (Sirach 4:16-19)

If a man commit himself unto her, he shall inherit her; and his generation shall hold her in possession. For at the first she will walk with him by crooked ways, and bring fear and dread upon him, and torment him with her discipline, until she may trust his soul, and try him by her laws. Then will she return the straight way unto him, and comfort him, and shew him her secrets. But if he go wrong, she will forsake him, and give him over to his own ruin.

Thomas first had some tricky trials, and then he proceeded straight to his goal. His wisdom was as the saying goes, When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Those Grievers were some tough fruit to squeeze. And, What­ever doesn't kill us only makes us stronger. Potent medicine he took and he didn't know if the anti­dote would work.

Here is an illustration of the biblical story: (Eccl. 9:13-15)

This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me: There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.

However heroic and wise Thomas comes across as, he's largely disregarded by his peers who love the status quo. I have no idea what the scientists think, because they're not fully explained, just that there's room for a sequel (“It's time to begin phase two.”)

Production Values

The Maze Runner” (2014) was directed by Wes Ball. Its screenplay was written by Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers, and T.S. Nowlin. It was based on James Dashner's YA novel, The Maze Runner. In the book the organization's letters were: WICKED; it was changed some for the movie but it was still wicked.

It stars Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, and Will Poulter. These were not seasoned actors so don't expect the moon, although they did a credible job. O'Brien, Brodie-Sangster, and Poulter were well cast. The CGI was spot on, adding an aura of sci-fi menace to a gothic maze surrounding a bucolic glade. MPAA rated it PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images. The theater's surround-sound was really effective in the maze.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

“The Maze Runner” was a nice tidy adventure. I don't think the book version could have been any better, though I didn't read it. Although it's not a movie great, it's well worth the viewing and has some inter­esting scriptural subtext. As long as you're not so sensitive as to be easily shook, I have no problem recommending it. The worst cursing was the expression, “What the hell!” But what did you expect them to say?

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years. Special effects: Well executed special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Apocryphal scripture taken from The Septuagint with Apoc­rypha: Greek and English. U.S.A.: Hendrick­son Pub. Originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851. Print, WEB.