In the Hunger Games knockoff The Maze Runner, a teenager in a dystopian future navigates an elaborate maze filled with death traps to escape from a compound run by a mysterious organization; in this sequel he and some fellow survivors flee another mysterious organization by negotiating a postapocalyptic desert landscape. There are some striking action sequences—particularly one set in the ruins of two overturned skyscrapers—but the story, adapted from a young-adult novel by James Dashner, falls flat whenever the characters start talking. The young leads lack charisma, and the veteran supporting players (Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson, Lili Taylor) seem to be phoning it in. Wes Ball directed, enforcing a glum tone.
By Ben Sachs