Movie Review: ‘Escape Room: Tournament of Champions’
Director: Adam Robitel
Cast: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Holland Roden, Indya Moore,
Plot: Zooey and Ben continue to search out evil company Minos, only to be trapped in another series of deadly Escape Rooms.
Review: The smartest thing about this series at this point is modelling the franchise after Saw. Give us an easily repeatable, creative gimmick and through in endless plot twists. Fine. We can watch more Escape Room movies. Because the rooms are cool. If this is a big selling point for you, then this delivers. The rooms are elaborate, well themed and fun. A postcard style beach, an art deco bank, an 80s New York street…very fun stuff.
Walking the line between giving the audience the information and time to solve these by themselves and keeping the movie ticking along is a tricky one, and more than a few times we felt cheated by a clue being revealed and immediately solved. They often become a scavenger hunt for the characters and we’re waiting for them to find the anchor in a pile of beach garbage like passive observers. I do wonder if there was some kind of poorly received preview screening, because it feels like there’s quite a few moments of ADR added to explain the puzzles. Most notable is when they find the wreckage of a boat, that looks nothing like a boat, when a character with their back to the camera loudly says “I can’t believe we didn’t see this”. No, me neither.
Now in this paragraph I was going to complain about the shoe-horned in ending. There’s a plot thread that appears in a prologue and then becomes a key feature of the story in the final act. It feels like a newly introduced character is suddenly the centrepiece to this entire adventure. Turns out I accidentally watched an extended cut. I didn’t even know that was a thing. Based on what I’ve since learned about this cut, it is dramatically different, introduces major new characters and has different escape rooms. Huh.
Just like the Saw franchise, we are entirely here for the escape rooms themselves. Just slow down enough that we can consider the clues. The main character spots, for the first time, a small poster advertising three rings. She immediately yells that they have to let the phone ring three times before answering. We hadn’t seen this poster up until now, she didn’t have to yell out the answer right away.
The extra twisty backstory, we can take or leave. The contestants are all former escapees, which is a nice way to skip the exposition scenes. More than anything, the art design department did themselves proud. The quicksand and acid rain rooms are downright scary to watch. Good use of the ticking clock set-up in both.
Rating: SIX out of TEN