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Soundtrack review: The maze runner: The death cure (John Paesano – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The maze runner: The death cure (John Paesano – 2018)



In the epic finale to The Maze Runner Saga, Thomas leads his group of escaped Gladers on their final and most dangerous mission yet. To save their friends, they must break into the legendary last city, a WCKD controlled labyrinth that may turn out to be the deadliest maze of all. Anyone who makes it out alive will get the answers to the questions the Gladers have been asking since they first arrived in the maze. Based upon the novel The Death Cure by James Dashner, The Maze Runner: The Death Cure is directed by Wes Ball with a screenplay by T.S. Nowlin and stars Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Walton Goggins, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Will Poulter and Patricia Clarkson. John Paesano returned for the score.

I enjoyed the previous Maze Runner scores and the sound that Paesano has shaped for this franchise. This final score clocks in at a massive 92 minutes; I like it, the composer goes all in with a couple of 8 minute long cues and a couple of 10 minute long cues and I can’t wait to hear them. The score opens with a thunderous bang with one of these long pieces, “Rescue”; I instantly recognize the frantic pace of the “Maze runner” series with strings that hack away and heavy brass and percussion that rile me up right from the start. This is the kind of cue I can see myself using on my running playlists; it’s loud, it’s epic, it’s adrenaline filed. It is a spectacular opening which can be both good and bad for a score if the composer can’t follow it up with music of similar quality. Fortunately in this case immediately after comes the first emotional, ambient piece of the score “We started this together” and if these are the two ends of the sonic spectre of “The death cure” I will be happy to also discover what’s in-between.

I like how the musical story develops and how seamlessly John Paesano moves through a palette of emotions, some loud, others quiet and I believe everything he tells me. I suffer listening to “The last city” as I feel part of the story; the haunting strings, the gentle rhythm, everything works. As spectacularly loud as the opening cue was, as far away from it is a piece like “Teresa’s plea”, quiet, reflective, almost painful but above all, extremely beautiful. The dripping piano evokes loss of hope and the ambient background motif paints a lonely landscape. I am just in awe of this particular cue.

Even when the music is neither emotional nor spectacular the texture is intense and enjoyable; “Closing in” is a dense and suspenseful cue that uses grounded glass like string motifs to sound even more uncomfortable. There are times when the score simply goes ambient electronic and I just bask in a cue like “The virus”. Sometimes the poignant and touching piano motifs remind me of my favourite Thomas Newman pieces. The soft caress of these motifs is balanced by the pointy feel of the strings suspense of the action moments.

It is not easy to make such a long score an enjoyable and rewarding journey from start to finish but John Paesano did it. He has polished and developed his sound over the course of these movies and he just pulled all the stops for this final score, his magnum opus so far. I enjoyed the first couple of score and I was expecting to like this one as well but the composer went further and surprised me with a complex and intelligent composition that makes for a standalone listening experience as rewarding as watching a movie; there’s action, there’s meaningful emotional content, there’s suspense, “The maze runner: the death cure” has everything I could ask for from a film music score. It’s an exceptional composition and for me, it’s John Paesano’s best work so far.

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 65 / 93

Album excellence: 70%

We Started This Together
The Last City
Teresa’s Plea
Closing In
The Virus
Visions of Thomas
Chat with Teresa
Let’s Go
What Bus?
Lawrence’s Final Act
Please Tommy, Please
I’m Sorry

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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  1. Jarosh 19th February 2018

    I am so agree with you. Paesano is grown up!
    Coincidence? I thought when I first listened “Visions of Thomas”. There’s so much Thomas Newman!


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