Yet another dystopian future where we can apparently only be saved by moody, lustful teenagers, but don’t be disparaged, this is not stealing anything from any of the others, and thankfully stands up for itself apart from the rest. I will admit that I was never that inclined to go see the first film other than my general curiosity for any film that doesn’t automatically look like complete rubbish but I was pleasantly surprised and I was with this film too so I will gladly admit that I was wrong to be sceptical. We met our heroes the first time round stuck in a maze with seemingly no escape until Thomas is added to the bunch and his relentless motivation to get out eventually works and they’re out, but are they really? The end of the first film left us with them being transported away in helicopters to an assumed safety, when we join them this time the facility they’re brought to has a quality about it that doesn’t quite sit right with Thomas. They soon learn that they will need to yet again escape, but what they’re escaping into is the unforgiving deadly landscape of the ‘scorch’, the group have to figure out how to survive, where to go, who to go with and what is really going on.
There’s a pleasing combination of different dangers, the start of which is the ‘scorch’ itself, a desert environment not suitable for human habitation, then appears what we got a brief glimpse of in the first film, a disease named the ‘flare’ that effectively turns people into zombies. This means that now not only do they have to escape humans, but also zombies while in a place that could barely be more dangerous, easy as pie right? Scorch Trials is jam-packed with running, running, chasing and more running, the actors must have just been exhausted during shooting but it’s to the audience’s benefit. The action is practically constant and the pace is brisk with barely a pause for breath for the entire film. Though the first film only really gave us a small group to follow we find a lot more characters popping up throughout this one including Aris played by Jacob Lofland of Mud, Little Accidents and the FX series Justified. As well as appearances from Lili Taylor, Alan Tudyk, and Barry Pepper, and the introduction of Janson our new bad guy played by Game of Thrones actor Aidan Gillen.
There isn’t really that much to say about any of the performances by the principal actors, they all do their jobs to a good standard and no one really stands out too much; with the exception of Patricia Clarkson who’s calibre of acting is generally above this type of film, especially considering her fairly limited screen time. There may be some super/mega/committed fans to the franchise but it just doesn’t do it for me, there’s no real connection created to make you feel for the characters; other than the basic hope that they don’t die because that would be a rubbish film. Even though I enjoyed it, I still have no particular excitement to see the next one, which is a shame because with a fairly far removed and un-relatable topic it still does a good job of being entertaining.
If you haven’t seen the first I wouldn’t generally recommend going to see this one, but if you have and liked it then you should definitely see this as it’s a slight step up from the last.