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. Again directed by Adam Robitel (the original Escape Room and Insidious: The Last Key), Escape Room: Tournament of Champions borrows an idea from the second Hunger Games -- all the survivors must reassemble to compete -- but, given that the villains of these movies are part of a mysterious, unseen, unknown entity, it works well enough. And 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 and shouting at one another, often above either some kind of ominous noise or 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. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions could have tried a little harder on its ending, but there's still enough here for a tense, fun watch.