Combustible Celluloid
 
With: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Thomas Cocquerel, Holland Roden, Indya Moore, Carlito Olivero
Written by: Will Honley, Maria Melnik, Daniel Tuch, Oren Uziel, based on a story by Christine Lavaf, Fritz Böhm
Directed by: Adam Robitel
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, terror/peril and strong language
Running Time: 88
Date: 07/16/2021
IMDB

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Clue Detat

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Despite a slightly too-familiar plot arc, this scant sequel nonetheless offers some cool, intricately-designed puzzles, and likable enough characters to create a satisfying punch of white-knuckle fun.

Zoey Davis (Taylor Russell) and Ben Miller (Logan Miller) are still traumatized by the events of the first movie. Despite their vow to go to New York to investigate the evil organization behind the escape room death traps they survived, Zoey is unable to get around her fear of flying. So they hit the road together.

No sooner do they arrive at the building then a thief takes Zoey's prize compass. They give chase and wind up on a subway car. They soon realize that the car is not stopping, and that the other passengers are also survivors of other deadly games. A new game has begun. Can Zoey and Ben make it out a second time?

Again directed by Adam Robitel (the original Escape Room and Insidious: The Last Key), Escape Room: Tournament of Champions borrows a not-great idea from the second Hunger Games — all the survivors of the previous games must assemble once more to compete — but, given that the villains of these movies are a mysterious, unseen, unknown entity, it works well enough. Then, after spending a bit too much time getting Zoey and Ben on the road, things kick up a notch.

The traps, on the subway train, then in a mysterious bank, on a postcard-like beach, on a city street, and more, are indeed tricky. Despite their frenzy, with characters racing against the clock, shouting at one another, often above either some kind of ominous noise or else the music score, the little clues make sense, and the puzzles come together in interesting ways.

Every small move could be right or wrong, and these sequences, which make up the majority of the movie, are real seat-grabbers. If only Escape Room: Tournament of Champions had tried a little bit harder on its ending, but there's still enough here for a fun watch.

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