22nd Oct2021

‘Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions’ DVD Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Indya Moore, Holland Roden, Thomas Cocquerel, Carlito Olivero, Deborah Ann Woll | Written by Will Honley, Maria Melnik, Daniel Tuch, Oren Uziel | Directed by Adam Robitel

Director Adam Robitel reunites with surviving cast members Taylor Russell and Logan Miller for this sequel to 2019’s puzzles-and-deathtraps franchise-starter. Unfortunately, the film fails to learn any of the lessons from the previous movie and opts for a passable retread rather than bringing anything new to the table.

After a “previously-on-Escape Room” recap, the film picks up not long after the events of the first film, with survivors Zoe (Taylor Russell) and Ben (Logan Miller) desperate to expose Minos, the shadowy company behind the escape room deathtraps. However, they have underestimated their enemy, because no sooner do they arrive in New York than they find themselves trapped on an electrified subway carriage, alongside four other previous escape room survivors, one of whom dubs their predicament a tournament of champions.

After that, it’s business as usual, with the group once again forced to solve puzzles in order to survive various booby-traps and make it to the next room alive. But what are Minos really after, and why their obvious interest in Zoe?

Considering this is a sequel (traditionally where you do things bigger and better), it’s disappointing that the deathtraps are neither as inventive nor as fun this time round. Bizarrely, the film actually goes to the trouble of explaining why that might be the case, but the explanation makes no sense and only raises further questions.

As with the previous film, the puzzles themselves are decent enough, but it’s frustrating that the writers still don’t allow any time for the audience to try and solve the clues themselves – instead, you just end up watching people shout at each other until someone gets it. That said, the against-the-clock set-up does at least allow for a satisfying pace, with the action never really letting up as the characters go from room to room.

Casting played a big part in the success of the first film, with Robitel assembling an appealing group of young actors, none of whom were famous enough that you were sure they’d make it to the end. This time round you know who you’re meant to root for and as a result, the script barely even bothers to develop the other four characters, making them instantly forgettable deathtrap fodder from the get-go.

The script also doubles down on the previous movie’s frustrating refusal to explain things. Here, it’s even more in-your-face, as, having used an extremely difficult-to-plan plot device to get Zoe and Ben on the subway carriage, the script doesn’t even attempt to explain how the other four survivors all got there too.

As for Minos, the least you’d expect from a sequel is for a bit of light to be shed on the shadowy organisation behind everything, especially when that’s Zoe’s expressed intention. Instead, the film reveals even less than it did the first time round, before throwing in a twist that’s simultaneously welcome and annoying.

Ultimately, the pacing and the performances from the two leads ensure that this is never less than watchable, but there’s a strong sense of missed opportunity all the same. Frankly, if the filmmakers want audiences to come back for part three (spoiler alert – it ends on a cliffhanger), they’d better start coming up with a few carefully considered answers for all the questions they’ve raised.

**½  2.5/5

Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions is on DVD, Digital and Blu-ray now. The film is available in an extended edition on Blupray and Digital.

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