’Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions’ Review: Dir. Adam Robitel [A Scare a Day]

Adam Robitel’s Escape Room was one of the more pleasant surprises of 2019’s genre offerings. The movie joined a group of escape room participants as they took on one of the toughest games going, a maze of multiple escape rooms, each more dastardly than the one before. There was a deadly twist to the puzzles though, each room claiming a life, and the winner being the one person left at the end. It was full of early Saw film style, wickedly devised rooms, and was so much better than anyone expected it to be. The film ended with a very brazen attempt at getting a sequel, and Robitel got his wish, with follow-up Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions just now arriving in cinemas. 

The film begins with a handy recap of the first film, which whilst helping refresh key plot points, has more than a little whiff of the start of a television episode. Once this has ended we join Zoey (Taylor Russell) in a therapy session. Zoey is fixated on bringing the company behind the rooms, Minos, to justice, and she enlists the help of fellow survivour Ben (Logan Miller) in tracking them down. Their plan goes awry and before long they find themselves pawns in Minos’ games once more. This time they’re accompanied by others who have also managed to survive previous tests. With the calibre of participants higher, the difficulty of the rooms are exponentially harder. Can Zoey and Ben make it out alive a second time around, or has their luck finally run out? 

If you liked the first Escape Room then you’ll have a lot of fun with this sequel. Robitel offers more of the same as his previous work: epic traps. The decision to populate the story with a cast of characters who have all previously played games means that Robitel can jump head-first into the action, chopping through the awkward exposition and leaping directly to the fun. As fun as the devious traps may be, they cannot replace good character work, and this time around there’s very little in the way of development for anyone. Our new additions are barely given names and professions, Ben is pushed firmly into sidekick mode, and even Zoey herself has no progression. It’s a shame, as by the second film, we really should know more about our returning players. 

With the traps more elaborate (read expensive) this time around, there are less of them. Instead of whistling through room after room, we spend much longer within each one. Rather than just one or two tasks, there are several stages to work through. The puzzles may be harder, but none possess quite the same wonder as the likes of the upside down pool room. Robitel’s approach to the escape rooms here is to keep the viewer and characters alike guessing when and if the group have managed to get free of the grasp of Minos. This means that each scenario looks like something fairly mundane, a subway car, a bank, a beach etc., the magic giving way to simple second guessing. The spectacle being lesser, and the time within each room extended out, it means that some of the excitement generated by some of them quickly wanes. It’s the first subway train room that feels especially long and quickly loses the tension that had been built up. 

Watching an Escape Room movie is as close as it gets to a movie version of riding a rollercoaster. Robitel does everything in his power to ensure a wild ride for all that venture to see it. The momentum is forever speeding forward and it’s hard not to get caught up in the silly fun of it all. There’s plenty to sit back and enjoy about Escape Room 2, and fans of the first film will find plenty to entertain them. Those that didn’t get it the first time around will find little to change their mind here in the second trip through Minos’ world. A great middle section, in what will likely become a trilogy, Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions, is wicked fun despite its regurgitation of things we’ve seen before.  

Though not quite as exciting as Escape Room, Robitel’s sequel consistently retells all the things that made the original so entertaining, keeping it’s captive audience keen for more exploration. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions is out to own now.

This review first appeared on THN.