Australian Council on Children and the Media

Maze Runner: The death cure

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Not recommended under 13, parental guidance 13 to 15, due to violence, and disturbing scenes and themes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Maze Runner: The death cure
  • a review of Maze Runner: The death cure completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 25 January 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to violence, and disturbing scenes and themes
Children aged 13 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, and disturbing scenes and themes
Viewers 15 and over OK for this group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Maze Runner: The death cure
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Science fiction themes and violence
Length 142 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

As humanity is threatened by a deadly virus, the opening scene of the film sees virus-immune Thomas (Dylan O’Brian), along with a band of rebels, carrying out a raid on a prison train.  They are hoping to rescue Thomas’s best friend Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and other virus-immune youth. Minho and the other captives are being used as lab rats by a totalitarian organisation known as W.C.K.D. (Wicked), members of which perform torture-like experiments in an attempt to find a cure for the virus. Unfortunately while many of the prisoners are rescued, Minho is not one of them. Thomas later learns that Minho has been taken to world’s last remaining city, a walled fortress controlled by W.C.K.D. 

Not wanting to risk his friends, Thomas sets off by himself but before long is joined by Frypan (Dexter Darden), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Brenda (Rosa Salazar) and Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito). Along the way the rescuers battle with bands of virus-infected humans until they make it to the walled city. It is at this point that Thomas must confront demons from his past, as the only way into the city is with the help of the resistance’s greatest betrayer Teresa (Kaya Scodelario). With Teresa’s reluctant help they gain access to the high security area where Minho is being held prisoner but the rescue attempt leads to unexpected outcomes and sacrifices.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Fatal viruses; the extinction of humanity; resistance fighters; self-sacrifice

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains intense sequences of violence, including close-ups of deaths and some psychological torture. There are some gruesome images. Examples include:

  • The  opening scene features the dramatic raid on a prison train involving a speeding 4WD, machine gun fire, a jet helicopter and loud explosion.
  • In several scenes depicting psychological torture a young man is strapped to a surgical table and wired to a machine. He is given an injection that causes him to hallucinate and he sees himself being chased by a monstrous creature through a maze of sliding floors and walls.  He screams in fear as he experiences the hallucinations.
  • A jeep carrying several people turns over and is attacked by a large group of zombies. Dazed people crawl out of the jeep and fire at the zombies and numerous zombies fall to the ground.
  • A defenceless crowd of people is attacked without warning by missiles and cannon fire. Bodies fly through the air and are scattered all over the ground. Panicked people then stampede as hundreds of civilians are slaughtered by automatic weapons.
  • In one of the film’s more brutal scenes involving a fight between a man and a young woman, the woman is thrown across a table, heads and faces are slammed into tables, there are brutal punches to the head, hair pulling and attempted strangulation with a rope.   
  • One of the lead characters attempts to shoot himself in the head and then stabs his friend in the stomach, killing him; we see a bloody wound on the boy’s stomach as he collapses to the ground.  
  • A virus-infected girl lies on a bed in a treatment room; she has blood filled eyes protruding blue veins all over her face and convulsing muscles. She is given a large injection and her appearance returns to normal. Later we see the same girl a having a major convulsion and being held down by several guards. Her eyes are full of blood, her skin is covered in raised blue veins and she is acting in a highly violent and aggressive manner.
  • A young man violently attacks a young woman, using his hands to try to strangle her until he is tasered by guards.
  • The same youth later stabs a doctor in the leg with a letter opener, the doctor screaming out and collapsing on the floor.
  • A woman is shot and blood spreads across her back.  
  • In one scene a young woman uses a scalpel to make a cut into the neck of a youth and pull out a tracking device.
  • A young man shoots a number of guards with a gun that shoots electrical charges; we see a number of convulsing guards lying on the floor
  • A young man driving a bus full of scared and screaming children rams several guards who are attempting to stop the bus escaping: we hear the sound of thuds as the bus drives over the guards.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes and characters in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including:

  • A giant creature like a crab with pincer-like claws and long sharp teeth.  
  • Throughout the film we see images of plague-infected humans (zombies) referred to as “Cranks” at varying stages of development. Those in the later stage of the infection appear as blood covered walking dead with blood red eyes, protruding blue veins all over their body, blood covered teeth, rotten flesh hanging off their bodies, rotten wounds and torn, filthy blood covered clothes. In several scenes we see bloody mouthed Cranks bents over their victims eating them.
  • In several scenes we see a man with a grotesquely disfigured face. The man’s face appearing as though rotten or eaten away by some flesh eating disease. The sides of his face are cover in boil-like lesions and blue protruding veins and he is blind in one eye, which is milk white in appearance.
  • One scene depicts dozens of dead bodies in body bags lying on the ground.
  • In one perilous scene three young men jump out of a high-rise building’s smashed window falling hundreds of feet and landing in a swimming pool; all three survive uninjured.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

Nothing of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A woman sits at a table with a glass and a bottle of scotch next to her.  A man enters and says. “Taking the edge off, I see”.
  • A young man injects a guard with a tranquilizer, the guard falling to the ground unconscious.
  • A young man strapped to a table is injected with a hallucinogenic drug.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • the word “shit” used repeatedly a variety of contexts; arse; arsehole; twat; Jesus Christ; goddamn; shut up; pissed

In a nutshell

Maze Runner: The death cure is the third and last in this trilogy and is a film likely to interest fans of the previous two, and of the books. Due to violent and disturbing scenes, it is most suited to older teens and young adults. It is not recommended for children under 13 and parental guidance is recommended for the 13 to 15 age group.

The main messages from this movie, which parents may wish to discuss with their children, are:

  • You should finish what you start, but there is a difference between giving up and knowing when you have lost.
  • There is no justification for sacrificing of another person’s life for the greater good, or to benefit humanity. 

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include friendship, trust and cooperation

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