The Maze Runner

Cinema Faith Grade

I pretty quickly decided this wasn’t my type of movie thanks to the trailer – a bunch of teenage boys stuck in some kind of maze getting mauled by sci-fi machines.

Written by James Dashner, The Maze Runner is a novel initially published in 2009 and developed into a movie in 2014 by 20th Century Fox.

In early 2016, despite my initial reaction, I sat down to watch The Maze Runner. I haven’t read the novel – I believe changes were made to develop it into a movie. My mind was blown by the depth and perplexity of this movie.

The Maze Runner is shrouded in mystery that slowly unfolds; however, by the end, there are still elements that remain unclear and have me itching to watch the sequel.

The Glade

Dozens of teen boys live in The Glade: a space that is surrounded by the walls of a maze. This community is extraordinary because of its isolation and the provision of limited resources all being controlled by something external and unknown. The addition of a teen boy with complete memory loss and some resources every 30 days adds spice to the dynamics that has developed over a 3-year period.

Each new addition to this community goes through a process of testing, compliance, and acceptance. Initially they are held at arms length, making sure they come into line with the rules that have kept the community safe, functional, and comprehensible.

The Greenie in the Glade

On arrival to the Glade as the new boy (the fresh lad is always labelled “greenie”) Thomas finds himself unable to remember his name and with no memory of who he is and how he got there. He is catapulted into the prison cage after his attempt to ‘run off’ when first set loose in the Glade.

Soon after his arrival, Thomas begins to buck the system with his intrigue of the Maze. The Maze is a plethora of giant walls creating an ever-changing challenge with its strange and mystical movements. Over three years the boys have plotted maps and learned the basic mood of the maze that seems to have a life of its own. They have learned that no one survives the night in the maze. It is immense and dangerous but at least able to be navigated during the day. At night, it closes up, changes paths, and devours anyone foolish enough to be within its walls.

The curious nature of Thomas is adored by many – as if some of the boys had been waiting for a challenge to the leadership scheme and someone bold enough to push past what has been discovered to bring an end to the enigma and a hope for the future.

Gally’s Glade

However not all the Glader’s are impressed by Thomas. Up until this point the rules had been adhered to and there was security. One boy leading the plight against Thomas is Gally. He presents as the toughest, biggest, and physically strongest Glader.

Driven by fear, Gally cannot imagine a life without (the assumption of) his power and control and the security that life in the Glade has afforded him. Thomas on the other hand begins the escape plan almost as soon as he arrives. This move activates the fear within Gally and some of the boys whom he is able to rally alongside him.

What would life look like without these walls? What happens when the rules are challenged and an optimist with the hope of freedom walks into the system? Gally’s control and influence is under question and this creates conflict within the Glade community as they consider the ramifications.

Gally declares himself a “child of the Maze.” His desire to keep the boys in the system that has defined who he is turns into an imposing expectation on the rest of the Gladers. In our own lives we can find ourselves living out this same fear. We live within the walls of our safe zones and don’t dare to seek out or listen to different views. We avoid unexpected turns in the maze and the effect of welcoming challenges that might change us forever. We generally don’t like our system of walls being challenged. We will defend them and justify them and be fearful of what lies beyond.

Hope Rising

At one point, Thomas is expelled from the community and disciplined with a night in their prison with no food. Those supporting him don’t want him disciplined but realize due to his actions he has broken the rules of the community and so must adhere to the consequences. Those against Thomas want him banished to get him out of the way. But they also know he will be back the next day with even more determination.

Thomas is intent on finding an exit in the maze. He believes there is a way out.

The hope and determination that propels Thomas and his belief that escape is possible gives the other boys hope and elation at the possibilities, not to mention satiating Thomas’ hungry curiosity. People that stretch the boundaries of ‘the norm’ and ‘the expected’ are fun to be around and possibly scare us because of their confidence in hope. Not only that, they have experiences and growth opportunities that people like Gally fear or just don’t understand. There is something within the fearful that desperately desires to be like the hopeful. Sadly it can play out in destructive ways like jealousy and conflict.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)