Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021) – Same Games, Same Prizes
Updated: Dec 26, 2021
Title: Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
First Wide Release: July 1, 2021 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Adam Robitel
Writer: Will Honley, Maria Melnik, Daniel Tuch
Runtime: 88 Minutes
Starring: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Holland Roden, Indya Moore
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Minos Escape Room survivors Zoey (Taylor Russell) and Ben (Logan Miller) set out for New York to put a stop to the corporation that decided to kill four people in front of them six months ago. Responsible for countless deaths and with a seemingly unlimited number of resources, the Minos Corporation will stop at nothing to ensure that Zoey and Ben pay the price for winning their game. Once in New York the duo is quickly apprehended and thrusted into a new game with four other strangers who have survived Minos’s past games. Will they all be so lucky this time?
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is more of the same Rube-Goldberg style trap-and-slash horror but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
The creators warp some of their logic and original background story to make this sequel work. Some of it lands, other parts do not. The dialogue explains a bit too much. Lines are delivered with a sense of irony that places actor’s tongues firmly in cheek in ways that don’t seem fully appropriate. There’s plenty more theorizing here, which isn’t entirely out of place for a movie about strangers solving puzzles together. It dives into the absurd when characters must explain Minos’s operations in ways that range from hokey to downright implausible even in the most forgiving of universes. The beginning and ending of the film suffer most from this brand of lazy writing. Its middle, however, is the film’s strong point which capitalizes on what the series does best: traps.
There’s a certain thing you expect from a film like Escape Room: Tournament of Champions and it isn’t that is likely to be regaled as high art. This series is clearly meant to be a high-concept, action horror hybrid with sharp special effects and compelling escape room challenges. And at its core, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions does this very well. Sleek camerawork gives way to impressive trap design and visuals. Far more grandiose than the first, they succeed in scale where they fail in intimacy. It seems to be like there was a tradeoff to make it elaborate without necessarily making them have character.
The loss of intimacy is prevalent throughout the film. The new characters, while sympathetic, are cardboard cutouts that don’t get more than one or two characteristics before getting thrown into the action. They’re likable enough to evoke sympathy but there’s not much growth too them. This extends to our returning cast members too. Some choices made with returning cast members feel cheap and detract from their original character. The cast, however, is affable enough to make up for the lack of development and both Holland Roden and Indya Moore are welcome additions to the cast.
I do wish that they went in a different direction with the story. Some of the loose ends don’t feel tightened up enough for a sequel and there are even more holes to be found in the idea of Minos. There’s also a severe lack of stakes in the film. A reveal ends up destroying the tension in the film by making things feel less life or death. Something can be said about giant, faceless corporate greed and how it can be used to play with people’s lives. But I’m sure Escape Room: Tournament of Champions isn’t that deep. At the end of the day, all I want from this series is great thrills and fun characters and I feel like that is what I got from this entry.
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions sets out to do exactly what it intends to do: provide brainless escapism with intricately designed puzzles to unnerve and stump its audience. The scale and scope have widened allowing director Adam Robitel to play with the insidious concept while still leaning into familiar territory with backstory and motivation. The tension and thrills are palpable, and the inevitable deaths still strike a chord, even if we don’t find the new crew as charming as the originals. Don’t try and run away, play Escape Room: Tournament of Champions while it is still in theaters lest Minos tracks you down and forces you to compete in the sequel.
Overall Score? 6/10