Escape Room: Tournament Of Champions

Anyone who managed to fight their way through the perky but dumb thriller Escape Room surely agrees that the most confounding aspect of Adam Robitel’s insanely far fetched flick is the fact that somehow it’s managed to score itself an equally silly sequel. The original was was a hugely diluted gumbo comprised of the best parts of Saw (deadly puzzles) Hostel (murderous murder conspiracy) and David Fincher’s The Game (nothing is as it seems… OR IS IT?) which torpedoed it’s own good natured thrills with quite possibly the most offensively ridiculous last act conspiracy plot I’ve ever heard since the last time Flat Eathers popped up in my Google search…
So does this further delve into this world where puzzles and plot twists compete to the death to see who can be the most outlandish manage to improve on the first movie?

Zoey Davis and Ben Miller are still mentally healing after they narrowly escaped a murderous conspiracy ran by a mysterious company known as Minos that lures chosen victims to compete in incredibly advanced escape rooms that will murder the crap out of any poor bastard who is too slow putting the insanely convoluted clues together.
Intending to use the clues they obtained from the first movie to track down Minos’ New York base of operations and somehow bring it down (they literally have no plan of attack), to the surprise of literally no one except these two apparently intelligent lunk heads, they end up back in Minos’ web.
However, this time things are a little different, you see this time the other poor saps roped into playing for their lives are people who, like Zoey and Ben, have actually played the game before and this is actually somewhat of a Tournament Of Champions (oh don’t look at me like that, a character actually says it as dialogue at one point that’s guaranteed to cause involuntary cringing) If they’re going to get out of this lethal succession of death traps they are going to have to work together and despite the odd random test of faith by alcoholic priest Nathan, things proceed as well as they can when you are fighting for your life for the enjoyment of a secret society, but Zoey can’t let go of trying to absorb evidence in order to bring Minos to justice if she manages to get out alive.
As the previous champions fall one by one the further everyone progresses, Zoey uncovers something about Minos she hadn’t previously considered and it turns out this new selection of rooms has actually been pointing to a mystery conspirator from her past that will change everything she thought she knew…

So let’s get the basics out of the way. Is Escape Room: Tournament Of Champions better than it’s predecessor? Well, yes – but that’s only because I was well prepared for the fast paced and utterly preposterous plot from picking my way through the equally silly first installment. The sequel seemingly has learnt absolutely nothing from the criticism leveled at the original movie’s aversion to anything remotely approaching realism and common sense and it races through it’s story with the same energy of a caffeinated baby at 3am – however, it also has the focus of a caffeinated baby at 3am and here’s where the same old problems start to raise their heads.
Once again you wonder what is the point of loading your film with a ton of complicated puzzles and traps if you don’t give your audience enough credit to follow them without having all the characters yelling out everything that they’re doing as they go – and I do mean everything. At one point (and I swear I’m not exaggerating) a character is trapped in a sealed room and what is plainly water starts rushing in to fill it, to which he actually feels the need to scream “Water’s rushing in!” just in case anyone watching needs clarification as to what water rushing into a room looks like. After a while it starts to feel a little insulting and you start to hate the sounds of the actors voices as the vast amounts of clumsy looping has them constantly pointing out the overwhelmingly obvious while screaming hysterically and there’s only so much of dialogue like “It’s some kind of door!” or “Everything’s sinking!” I can take…
Another hugely missed opportunity is the promise the clunky title holds, after all “Tournament Of Champions” suggests that all these ex players of the game will do anything they can to avoid being sacrificed to the whims of Minos hense building drama – but wrong again. Everyone here either bonds instantly or is incredibly helpful and usually supportive and don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to see, but it hardly raises the stakes at all and it means that we really are just watching a redos of the orginal movie with different rooms and less memorable characters.
This brings us to the only part of the film where any real thought has been put into and surprise, surprise – it’s the titular escape rooms. But even these now seem a little samey and a lot of their secrets have already been given away in the trailer anyway, but it does make you wonder exactly how much budget the shadowy Minos seems to be playing with. Judging at the extreme jiggery-pokery they get up to this time, I’d have to conservatively guess that they’ve got more disposable cash than the Monsterverse’s Monach and S.H.I.E.L.D. combined which them begs the question, why hyper complicated fucking puzzle rooms in the first place? Imagine the money you’d save if instead of coughing for a way to progressively electrify a subway car after loading it with clues and levers, wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to just subscribe to a channel that reruns old game shows while watching snuff videos on the dark web?
Even the “shock” return of a character fails to raise a single eyebrow and the “twist” ending once again stretches all this goofy bullshit way too far to the point of irritation. The leads are smart enough to negotiate four death traps and seemingly bring down a near mythical syndicate with only their word and some shakey footage shot on a phone only to fall for something everyone in the cinema had predicted five minutes in?

A very dumb movie about supposedly smart people, this Escape Room sequel has it’s moments, but Bonnie and Clyde wasn’t riddled with as many holes at this fucking plot is and the script spends too long moving around tirelessly without having any real direction in mind, which would sort of make it like an Escape Roomba, I guess…


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