In Escape Room: Tournament of Champions six people are trapped with death awaiting them unless they find a way out. All of them have played this game before … and survived. Now they’re unwillingly thrust back into the same environment.
A couple – Zoey Davis (Taylor Russell) and Ben Miller (Logan Miller) – are familiar to us from Escape Room (2019). The rest are new to the franchise. They include a man concerned about being late for his wife’s birthday, a priest who has taken to the bottle, a social media influencer, and a woman unable to feel physical pain. After a trailer of sorts pointing back to the first instalment, we see Davis is in therapy trying to deal with the nightmare that she encountered at the hands of Minos Corporation (who created the “game”).
Determined to travel to New York to get to the bottom of the nefarious actions of that shadowy organisation, she fears flying there. Instead, she takes a road trip with the man she saved, her best friend Miller. When they arrive, all they see at the location they pinpointed is a derelict warehouse and a junkie. Their interaction with him effectively sets up the bulk of the film.
Davis and Miller find themselves trapped with four strangers in the carriage of an uncoupled fast-moving train. It is soon clear that Minos Corporation has roped them in to more perilous challenges. They will face electrocution, implosions, lasers, rising water, quicksand, acid rain and more. Not all will survive … as the “game” constantly shifts.
You do not need to have seen the original to appreciate the sequel, which is far-fetched but tense. How they figure out the often-obtuse clues so quickly requires suspending disbelief. Nevertheless, I thought Taylor Russell’s delivery of “unease” made the whole thing that much more plausible (in context of course). The others all play their parts, without any real standouts for me.
Scriptwriters Will Honley, Maria Melnik (the only one retained from the initial offering), Daniel Tuch and Oren Uziel ensued the action is constant and unrelenting. They offer surprises, as a movie of this genre demands. Of course, we are constantly left asking how any of the “players” could possibly survive such an ordeal. And just you think it may be over, it isn’t – setting up another sequel (if box office success demands it). Director Adam Robitel, who also helmed the original, has a good grasp on tension.
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is a film that knows its audience and plays to it. It’s no world-beater, but a reliable, adventure-based offering, which delivered exactly what I expected.
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Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.