Escape rooms are great. They test you in the same way puzzle rooms in video games do, and that alone makes a stellar concept for a franchise of action-horror films. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (Escape Room 2) is the sequel to Escape Room and directed by Adam Robitel with a screenplay by Will Honley and Maria Melnik, and Daniel Tuch (story by Christine Lavaf, Fritz Böhm, and Honley). This sequel picks up where the last film left off, with Taylor Russell and Logan Miller reprising their roles as the last two survivors, Zoey and Ben, who are now traumatized by their experience in the room. Additionally, the film stars Indya Moore, Holland Roden, Carlito Olivero, and Thomas Cocquerel.
In Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, six people unwittingly find themselves locked in another series of escape rooms. Like the title tells you, each one of them has beaten the escape rooms before, but this test is different. While the bulk of Escape Room 2 is focused on survival through rooms that up the ante in complication and puzzle design, there is a human story at the center of it. Primarily, Zoey and Ben are trying to do two things after their “win.” The first is to tear down the company behind it all and the second is to just get back to a normal life.
While there are new additions to the cast, Zoey is the only character who gets to grow, while the others exist as fodder for the escape rooms to outsmart. That said, the lack of character depth is made for with the character types in the film, each with different specialties or quirks that tied them to the group they played with originally before making it into the Tournament of Champions. These small elements allow for variation in how each group approaches the puzzles and showcases how they only could have completed them with that exact group make-up.
And that’s what you’re showing up to Escape Room 2 for right? The rooms are more complicated this go-around which leads to larger set pieces that offer more brutal ways to die. With more extravagant situations that somehow push what you can do in a room and feel very much like an escape room, you’d enter with any group of friends. The ability to turn rooms that feel authentic into traps of pure fear is something that Escape Room 2 excels at. That said, the complicated nature of the rooms doesn’t offer up much in way of entertainment while the characters are solving the escape. In fact, because of the multiple layers, the pacing of the room drags and the way the characters focus on their tasks make sit hard to connect with them outside of just solving the puzzle.
While the spectacle that is added with Escape Room 2 upping the ante adds entertainment, it leaves the characters hollow. This leads to moments of overcomplication and the want to know more about characters, namely Brianna and Rachel played by Moore and Roden respectively. That said, Escape Room 2‘s third act pushes it out of the rooms and back into the larger narrative where we started in the first – with Zoey pushing towards her goal of bringing down the gamemasters.
Overall, Escape Room 2 is a fun thriller that ups the ante. While it does overcomplicate some elements that forget its incredibly capable cast, the puzzles alone keep you invested and the inventive nature of the traps, clues, and more are enough to keep the franchise going — and with that ending, I hope it does.
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions hits theaters nationwide July 16, 2021.
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Escape Room 2 is a fun thriller that ups the ante. While it does overcomplicate some elements that forgets its incredibly capable cast, the puzzles alone keep you invested and the inventive nature of the traps, clues, and more are enough to keep the franchise going — and with that ending, I hope it does.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime.