‘Escape Room’ Sequel Delivers More Thrilling Danger Rooms (Movie Review)

As Sony’s follow-up to 2019’s surprise hit, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is more of the same, but I’m certainly not complaining. Returning players, along with some new faces, will need to be lightning-fast problem solvers, or else they might get zapped, buried alive, or worse. The stakes are higher, and the rooms are way bigger. Post-pandemic, most of the best movies I’ve returned to theaters for have been of the horror/thriller variety and with good reason. We might be sitting a few seats away from each other, but all those shrieks and chuckles make for a collective good time at the local multiplex. So let’s find the next clue and jump in.


Set six months after official winner Ben (Logan Miller) and his savior Zoey (Taylor Russell) escaped their first encounter with the nefarious MINOS group, Tournament of Champions is a faster ride than the original. Whereas the first film took its time introducing us to the rules of its Final Destination by way of Saw death traps, this Escape Room sequel spends only a few minutes with a quick recap. Think any serialized television show’s “previously on Lost” opener. If you’re someone who didn’t see the first film but decided to check this out, you’ll need to catch up fast… or just read the next paragraph.

The main plot of the series has strangers of no more than six trapped in a room. They are informed they’ll need to escape within a time limit or be killed. Like the real-life escape rooms you may have experienced at a friend’s birthday shindig or your job’s team-building exercise, each participant can rarely do the whole thing alone. As in the Final Destination films, strangers are usually put together for a reason, but they’ll have to figure out their connection. Either way, it behooves the players to work together and, for the most part, not be a jerk and let others die. The first film had at least one person of questionable moral character, but for the most part, one of the better features in this 21st-century horror series is that we are encouraged to like the people fighting to live another day. We’re rooting for them to escape said rooms.

The hook of the sequel is that these new rooms have been designed for people who survived a previous night of horrors. Thus, these six individuals are the “champions” of the title. Like the Hunger Games sequel,  Catching Fire, they quickly realize they’re in danger and, better yet, that they need to rely on each other. One of the improvements of this installment is that there isn’t the “who will betray who” trope from the first film.

I don’t wanna say too much about the actual rooms, as I would assume that’s the big reason anyone would see Tournament of Champions. Suffice it to say, the budget looks bigger as the set pieces such as an Art Deco bank are terrific eye candy. Variety in the trap-filled rooms and effective tension via the editing and score is as satisfying as it was two years ago. Each time our survivors escape with their lives and enter another room delivers a satisfying  balance of “Yay, they made it!” followed up by “But what’s next?We’re two films in what I hope at least gets a third, and returning director Adam Robitel and new writers  Will Honley, Maria Melnik & Daniel Tuch, and Oren Uziel have not fallen into the creative trap of repetition. Each room has its own personality.

Although most will come for the twists and puzzles, the cast is still quite good for this kind of thing. Russell and Miller supply ample chemistry as pals that have done the impossible by surviving. Plus, new castmates like Teen Wolf‘s Holland Roden and Pose‘s Indya Moore have come to play.

Are there any nitpicks? Only a few. As much as I appreciate this film’s brevity, there are one too many times that I felt the solutions to the puzzles were made by Zoey and the gang too quickly. By that, I mean part of the fun is trying and figuring out where the next key goes or what purpose, for example, a curious bowl of lollipops has. Still, far too often, I felt the plot zooming along with little chance for me to think about it (or maybe I’m just too slow and would certainly die first in real life). Also, the big finale, while perfectly serviceable, is perfectly predictable.

Putting these quibbles aside, I’m all in for a third go. Here’s hoping Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is a modest hit so we can soon see Escape Room: The Final Room.



  1. No Comments