Despite its faults, the first Escape Room (2019) was an enjoyable action-horror hybrid that owed a lot to the likes of Saw and The Cabin In The Woods. Its sequel, Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions is a lot less likeable and feels more like a forced effort, capitalising on the first films good reviews and encouraging box-office numbers.
For anyone new to the franchise, Tournament Of Champions has you covered. The opening segment plays like a “previously on” that you would find on a popular TV show before everything went to streaming and binge-watching became the norm. The highlights reel of the first film gets you up to speed, and we are soon reunited with the two surviving members of the original film. Taylor Russell returns as Zoey Davis, as does Logan Miller as Ben Miller. The two have vowed to take down the evil Minos corporation and put a stop to the deadly games they have been playing. Soon though, the two are placed into a new game alongside a group of people who have previously survived Minos’ evil doings.
Part of what made Escape Room so much fun was not the characters, but the rooms the games were being played in. Despite the audience having to suspend all disbelief, what occurred was fun and well thought out. The rooms looked spectacular and the puzzles added a layer of tension that is sadly missing in Tournament of Champions. It has the feel of a film very much on auto-pilot, as returning director Adam Robitel (Insidious: The Last Key) fails to bring any fresh or exciting ideas to the film.
Returning to the lead role, Taylor Russell has no problems in leading the film and with its non-ending, it looks as if she may well return for a third instalment. What the film lacks though is inventiveness and/or any sense of dread to accompany the plot & characters. The new cast are supremely dull and are given no characterisation whatsoever. The only joy comes in guessing the order in which they will die. It’s a shame really that Tournament of Champions doesn’t do enough to broaden the world created in the first film. Nor does it do enough to be entertaining on its own merits.
Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions is available from 18 October on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.