Okay, I will say it from the get-go: Adam Robitel in his follow-up to 2019’s Escape Room in 2021’s Escape Room: Tournament of Champions got me. So, toward the end of the first film, we see that the Minos Corporation, the entity behind the deadly escape rooms, are preparing a plane crash scenario. At the start of this film, we even get the old school Friday the 13th-style recap of what happened in the first film, except for the preparations for a plane crash. I totally forgot about it until Zoey and Ben were on the plane at the end of the film and it seemed as if it was about to crash. Gosh!
So, yeah, if you’re a fan of the 2019 film, then you’ll be a fan of this continuation of the puzzling madness, particularly because we’re still following Zoey and Ben in their quest to bring Minos down. And they are both likable characters we want to root for to succeed.
After reaching New York, Zoey and Ben chase after a seeming would-be thief, who stole Zoey’s necklace she received from her mother. In trying to catch him, Zoey and Ben end up on the New York City subway. With them in the train are Rachel (played by Holland Roden), Brianna (played by Indya Moore), Nathan (played by Thomas Cocquerel) and Theo (played by Carlito Olivero).
Very quickly, the group realizes that they are all survivors of the Minos Corporation’s deadly escape rooms. Which is interesting because that means the corporation let all of them go, except for Ben. They tried to kill Ben in the previous game. Nonetheless, the only cheesy, cringe moment in the film is when Rachel does the, “What is this, like a tournament of champions?” I don’t know why scriptwriters always blatantly say the title of the film within the film. It always come off weird.
From there, the need to escape begins, from the subway itself, which is electrified; to a bank vault with lasers; to a summer beach with quicksand; then an acid-raining city street; and finally, some sort of makeshift room, which we aren’t in long enough to see how it would kill the survivors. Along the way, Theo is electrocuted to death in the first room; Nathan dies saving Rachel at the beach by being buried to death; Ben seems to die at the beach; and then Rachel and Brianna are both brutally killed by the acid rain.
When Zoey reaches the final room, Amanda from the first film returns, saying she never really died. She tells Zoey something like, “If you don’t see it [the death], it didn’t happen.” In other words, Amanda wasn’t actually killed at the billiards room when she seemingly dropped hundreds of feet. The Minos Corporation has now recruited her, on threat of killing her daughter Sonya, to re-create the puzzle they’ve all been playing.
The Minos Corporation figures, who better to be the puzzle master than someone who has escaped other puzzles? Amanda tries to get Zoey to also become a puzzle creator, telling her she has no choice. Zoey, steadfast and lovable as always, says no. That’s when Ben remerges. Zoey didn’t see him die, so I guess he’s still alive and now is threatened with drowning if Zoey doesn’t comply.
Instead, Zoey and Amanda use a pipe to start a fire, freeing Ben and escaping from the room. It seems like Ben, Zoey and now, Amanda, have won again against the Minos Corporation. We see them at the police station and a news report that makes it seem like the police are finally taking it seriously and are rounding up the corporation with the inside help of Amanda.
Zoey and Ben fly back to Chicago (what happened to their car?!) and that’s when Zoey realizes they are still in a “game” and the Minos Corporation is still controlling them. A voice comes over the airplane speaker telling Zoey that the game is only over when they say it’s over.
In my previous review, I compared Escape Room to Saw because of the elaborate puzzles, each person being chosen for a specific reason and because of the gruesome ways the losers die. But the sequel makes the comparison even more salient with the Jigsaw-sounding voice over the plane speaker taunting Zoey. It sounded nearly like Jigsaw to me.
I know some people hated that the previous film made it so obvious that they were setting up a sequel, so I’m sure those same people won’t be pleased that this film also is so obviously setting up a sequel, but I don’t mind, Keep the puzzle madness coming!
Again, if you liked the previous film, then this one is a no-brainer fun time and again, you continue to root for Zoey and her righteousness and for Ben, who is 100 percent there for her, no matter the obstacles. It’s a lovely friendship up against an evil corporation.