The release date for the third, and final instalment into the popular Maze Runner franchise had to be pushed back a year following the serious on-set accident involving the film’s leading star Dylan O’Brien. In turn, this Wes Ball endeavour feels even more timely, released at a time when as a society we seem more inclined to be building walls as opposed to breaking them down – injecting a greater deal of profundity to a narrative that gives the power to the disenfranchised.

You would have imagined that the Gladers had overcome their biggest puzzle yet, after they first arrived on the maze, desperate to find a way out – but it seems that they’re about to embark on a monumental task, in a bid to save their dearest friends from the clutches of Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) and Janson (Aidan Gillen). Under the guidance, and leadership of Thomas (O’Brien), as well as Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Brenda (Rosa Salazar) they must infiltrate the last, legendary city – controlled by WCKD – and uncover the truth once and for all, hoping to find a cure for the deadly, sweeping disease known as the Flare. For that they may need the help of old friend Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) – though they’d have to get to her first.

Without any hesitation, Ball throws the audience into the heart of the action, with a rescue mission to recover Minho (Ki Hong Lee) to be precise – and this sets the tone for what’s to come, as an unrelenting production that maintains a fast pace throughout, with little respite. Naturally it makes for a film that is easy to enjoy and a world that’s easy to immerse yourself in – but the characters, regrettably, are not so easy to invest in. The issue here is a lack of personality. You look at franchises such as Harry Potter, and it’s not just about the titular protagonist, who works as something of a cipher, you have a myriad of supporting roles that are idiosyncratic, comical and unique. Even in Hunger Games you have the likes of Caesar Flickerman and Haymitch Abernathy – but there just isn’t that same degree of variety in this series, with little to no moments of light relief. Films of this nature are not just about the world, but the characters that inhabit it, and it’s here the film falls short.

It’s also somewhat contrived in just how many tight situations the protagonists all get themselves out of, with a handful of absurd rescue jobs that don’t quite add up – but it doesn’t take too much away from a film that has appeased fans of the book, and in the meantime, has even attracted a fair few of those less acquainted with the original text, and merely enjoy these productions for what they are. Though that said, this film is not exactly intended for those new to the series – Ball expects you to know the characters, and the rules of this specific universe. If you don’t have that prior knowledge much of this third film will go over your head. But hey, if that means going back and watching the other two movies in preparation, there are plenty of worse ways to spend your time.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure is released on January 26th.