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The Maze Runner 2014 movie summary:
The Glade is a nice place, as far as it goes. What it lacks in indoor plumbing and cable television, it makes up in ambiance. Green and fertile, it offers its occupants land enough to grow crops and raise goats, shelter enough to sleep and eat, space enough to walk and wander … until you hit your nose upon the towering gray walls surrounding the place. But if you contentedly stay within those walls, you’ll be as comfy as a cat in the sun—as safe as a baby in a large, leafy womb.
Thomas’ first impressions of the Glade are very similar to the rest’s when they arrive: confused. Drugged into a state of amnesia and zapped into the Glade via underground lift, he arrives not even knowing his name. Glade residents call him “greeny,” like they always do everyone at first—making sure that he’ll remember his name in a day or two. “It’s the one thing they let us keep,” longtime Glader Alby says.
With no memories to tell them what they were or should now be, the boys have created new lives in this strange world. Those lives are governed by just three rules set down by Alby: Do your part. Never hurt another Glader. And never go beyond the walls.
There are exceptions. Assigned “runners” race through a slit that during daylight hours shows up in a giant gate, exploring what lies beyond—a maze, it turns out. They’re looking for a way out of its tangle, but it’s dangerous work: The maze is full of twists and drops and worse, and the gate closes up tight at night. They have to return to the Glade before that happens.
Because no one who’s ever been trapped in the maze overnight has survived.
Thomas is still adapting to this new reality when something goes wrong: Alby and a runner called Minho went into the maze and are late getting back. A storm comes and goes and still no runners. The sun begins to sink and still no runners. Then, just as the maze gate starts to seal, Thomas sees them—Minho dragging the wounded Alby. But they’re moving too slowly.
Thomas leaps through the opening and dashes to Minho in a desperate bid to help. It’s too late. They’re trapped. The night has come. They’re sealed in the maze.
“Good job,” Minho says. “You just killed yourself.”
And they begin to hear the skittering.
POSITIVE ELEMENTS OF THE MAZE RUNNER 2014 MOVIE
Thomas’ leap into the maze was, logically, not the smartest thing to do. But his impulsive act of bravery turns out to be the right thing to do—the beginning of a positive pattern. When Minho is ready to turn tail and run, Thomas is determined to save Alby’s life. And when a creature called a Griever living in the maze bares down on them, Thomas finds a way to fight back.
It’s a turning point in the story. For years, the Gladers have grown increasingly comfortable in their green prison. Thomas dares question the status quo and suggests that they should be trying much, much harder to find a way out. “We don’t belong here,” he tells them. “This place isn’t our home.”
He’s right. In a way, “this place” is a test. It’s unknown whether the minds behind the maze want them to succeed or fail or die, but Thomas isn’t concerned with that. He’s determined to find freedom, even if he has to risk everything in the process. And eventually many of the other Gladers see that he’s right, following his heroic lead.
SPIRITUAL CONTENT OF THE MAZE RUNNER 2014 MOVIE
The Gladers do not adhere, apparently, to any specific religion, but their dealings with the Grievers sometimes appear to trigger creepy rituals. When the Gladers throw a party on Thomas’ first night there, for instance, it’s tricked out with a burning effigy. And when things start heading the wrong way in the Glade, one guy attempts to appease the maze creatures with blood. “This isn’t a banishing,” he says, as he ties another Glader to a pole in front of the maze gate. “This is an offering.”
VIOLENT CONTENT OF THE MAZE RUNNER 2014 MOVIE
The Grievers are robotic creatures—half mechanical spider, half slimy, fang-filled critter. They’re sometimes smashed by moving maze walls, which turn their bodies into pulpy messes. Gladers find a computerized cylinder embedded in the brain of one, which they gingerly remove from the gory matter surrounding it. Some of the Grievers’ mechanical parts are pounded off. The rest are set on fire or forced off cliffs.
But it is the Gladers who get the worst of this confrontation, and many have fallen. The Grievers’ most feared weapon is a mechanical “stinger,” which injects a poison into victims that makes them go crazy. (It also turns their veins black.) The creatures’ mechanical tails are equipped with claw-like pincers that yank teens away from safety and enable the Grievers to, apparently, kill them away from moviegoers’ prying eyes. Battles sometimes are waged amid blazing structures, and we hear the kids scream horribly as they perish. And it should be noted that not all the fatalities here are peripheral characters.
The boys watch someone (on a TV screen) point a gun at her own head and pull the trigger. We hear the shot and see their shocked expressions. A boy is shot in the chest (and blood spreads all over his shirt). Another is gutted by a spear. We see images of badly burned bodies. A laboratory is strewn with bloodied corpses after men invade with blazing machine guns.
Thomas and the others engage in a challenging, sumo-like contest with Gally, the biggest and strongest of the Gladers. Thomas ultimately has his head bonked on the ground (which sparks the memory of his name). Guys sometimes fight each other, and a couple of people are knocked out during a melee. One Glader, “stung” by the Grievers, assaults Thomas and almost strangles him. Thomas breaks free by smashing a nearby skull into his attacker’s face. The two painfully tumble down a hill. Someone’s stabbed with a syringe. Someone else purposely “stings” himself with a detached “stinger” (to try to regain memories).
The Maze Runner is largely based on the bestselling first novel of a young adult trilogy written by James Dashner. It’s a dark, violent and sometimes profane movie. It’s pretty intense, especially given its roots in YA lit—hard to watch and, at times, hard to stomach. Even Thomas’ elevator ride at the very start is a study in tension, captivating us to gulp down the confusion and fear our amnesic protagonist himself is feeling.
In the midst of that dank darkness, the story works hard to hit at some of the big issues teens deal with. You could argue that the womb-like Glade is a bit like childhood—a safe place to stay as long as you follow the rules. The greater world, then—the maze—is a dangerous, at times lethal place, a sad truth adults understand all too well. But as tempting as it may appear for some, they can’t stay in the Glade forever.
As we watch the Gladers’ struggle, then, we’re led through an occasionally confusing landscape. We’re told that “WCKD” (the initials found on supplies) is good. We’re required to sympathize not just with the kids battling the maze, but understand—at least a little—the intentions of the people who built it. We see that Thomas feels, at times, a sense of calling—like he was meant to do something very important in the Glade. And yet, as he remembers more about his past life, he’s struck by shame—the deep and crippling sense that he’s no hero at all.
Newt bats away Thomas’ fears and confessions. What he was before doesn’t matter. “What does matter is who we are now,” he says. “And what we do now.”
It’s almost as if Thomas’ past deeds were wiped clean, and he is free to be the person he wants—perhaps needs—to be. Even if he can only be that person for a very, very short time.
Indeed, it’s Thomas and his friends who convey whatever genuine moral clarity the movie has: We may not entirely understand the maze’s purpose, but we do understand that Thomas is trying to do his very best in battling it. He’s a Moses figure here, leading his people to freedom. Or maybe even a Messiah-like character, willing to sacrifice himself for a greater good.
Or he’s just a kid caring for his friends—a kid longing to finally find true freedom.