You can always tell a movie’s good when one of the characters clumsily inserts the movie’s name into dialogue. It worked great in STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT and it works just as well here in ESCAPE ROOM: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS.

Escape Room Tournament Of Champions

Zoey Davis (Taylor Russell) and Ben Miller (Logan Miller), survivors of the events of the first ESCAPE ROOM are determined to expose Minos, the murderous company behind their ordeal, to the wider world. In pursuit of this goal, they travel to New York to coordinates Zoey discovered embedded in their corporate logo. What at first seems to be a random mugging turns out to be just another trap and before they know it, Zoey and Ben find themselves trapped with four strangers – each of whom have had a prior experience at the hands of the Minos Corporation.

While Russell and Miller do their best to breathe a bit more life into their underdeveloped characters from the first movie, they’re facing an uphill struggle because they’re basically written to fulfil narrative duties: Taylor Russell provides exposition and Logan Miller provides a bland background in order to make Russell more interesting. They’re joined by an assortment of two-dimensional puzzle fodder characters that you neither warm to nor invest in because you know they’re just there to get caught in the traps.

Like the first movie, ESCAPE ROOM: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS still feels like a Cbeebies SAW, cobbled together from discarded first draft ideas for the movie CUBE. The puzzle rooms themselves aren’t that interesting or ingenious and the play by play is so predictable you can probably guess in what order what happens to who within the first ten minutes.

Speaking of those first ten minutes, one thing ESCAPE ROOM: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS really wants to convince you of is that it’s been a wide-ranging franchise all along and that all of this was planned from the beginning rather than being rushed into production after the first movie did slightly better than the modest box office expectations Sony had for it. How else can you explain the sequel spending almost a quarter of its slender 88-minute run time on showing you scenes from the first movie? It even drops flashbacks from this movie into proceedings towards the end to remind you (probably justifiably) of things you may have missed because your attention wandered or you nodded off.

Another baffling decision it makes – again in an attempt to support the idea of some grand franchise arc – is to literally nerf the only thing it’s got going for it: the death traps. Gasp as someone you thought dead is still alive. More than once. What a lark! There is, of course, a sequel-setting-up twist at the end which is so abundantly obvious from the moment the film starts by our heroes solving a puzzle to find the bad guys’ headquarters that you have to question whether the people we’ve been following for two movies now really are the puzzle-solving geniuses they’re made out to be or just the only people stupid enough to repeatedly fall for the same scam.

Dull and uninspired, ESCAPE ROOM: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS suggests this is one franchise Sony should put in a locked room and throw away the key. Of course, it’s Sony so instead, we’ll probably get ten more of these over the next few years.

score-3

3/10

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