In the year 2035, Karen Matheson (Crystal Reed) is a freshmen college student who spends her time attending college parties and football games with her friends and visiting her younger brother Jesse (Nick Jonas) and their grandmother, who succumbs to her illness and passes away. When Karen tries to have Jesse move in with her, Jesse is taken by “The Golden Dawn”, a secret ruthless heartless organization that abducts man, woman and teenagers and trains them as warriors for the “Survival Exams”, a tournament where ten chosen candidates must survive against their opponents, deadly evolved vicious animals and secret hidden booby-traps until one two remain alive. After learning Jesse was abducted, Karen participates in the Survival Exams to save her brother, no matters the risks.
In 2035, Karen Matheson (Crystal Reed) is a successful well-knowing college student who spends her time hanging out with her friends, attending parties and football games. She mostly visits her younger brother Jesse (Nick Jonas), who later gets expelled from school after a fight with a staff teacher, and their grandmother, Rosa; Karen’s and Jesse’s mother died in a car accident when they were young and their father died during the “Survival Exams”, a dangerous tournament where candidates of man, woman and teenagers will be force to fight each other until only two remain alive. Jesse, however, is unaware of this and believes that they’re father had abandoned them because of their mother’s death. One day, Rosa suffers from a heart attack, but because of her illness, she dies in the hospital, asking Karen and Jesse to watch over each other. Soon after Rosa’s funeral, Karen decides to have Jesse move in with her, but he refuses, not wanting to leave their childhood home. Karen tries to ask the college administrators to allow her take Jesse in, but they refuse, given he hasn’t complete his senior year in high school, thus, being expelled with horrible grades. One of the administrators stated to Karen that because of her failing grades and lacks the privilege of looking for a job, she isn’t able to take care of herself, let alone her own brother.
Enraged, Karen storms off while Jesse goes out for a walk, and is followed and abducted by an unknown cloaked figure. One of Karen’s friends had witnessed Jesse being taken and quickly warns Karen, who goes off and pursuits the figure to rescue her brother, but she too is abducted by the cloaked figure as well. The following morning, Karen wakes up and finds herself in a living room, where she is reunited with Jesse and the two are visited by their long thought forgotten ruthless uncle, Simon Matheson (Mark Pellegrino), who left the family years ago to fulfill his dream in being one of The Administers, a group of five powerful council leaders and worldwide former Survival Exam champions, and is partner Robert Frazer (Giovanni Ribisi). Simon reveals that he had them abducted and taken to a secret training facility, where he plans to train them for the upcoming 33rd Survival Exams. He also discloses how they’re father, John, who is also Simon’s brother, died in the exams and that he didn’t even care of his passing, much to Jesse’s anger. Simon plans to have them finish what John had started and continue the Survival Exams, but Karen and Jesse refused to do so. The two try to escape, but they are caught by the guards and take to former highly trained mercenary and former Survival Exams champion Klent Harrison (Josh Dallas), who is ordered by Simon to train them for the exams.
Karen and Jesse are taken to train in the training room, where they meet the other eight participates – Kiera (Keke Palmer) and her boyfriend Ron (Tristan Wilds), Aaron Rayfield (Max Irons), Zander (Alexander Ludwig), a skilled killer, Mindy (Isabelle Fuhrman), a knife expert, Davis (Jack Quaid), Jackson (Luke Bilyk) and Edwin (Ricardo Hoyos), and are quickly befriended by Kiera, Ron and Edwin. During the training programs, Karen begins to realize that Aaron secretly has a crush on her, and Aaron admits this while he and the other candidates are being interviewed; this angers Zander. Karen succeeds in becoming a master archer, and Jesse becomes skilled in throwing spears. Jesse and Kiera begin developing feelings for each other. Later, the two start to get to know and like each other; this makes Ron’s easily jealousy and angrily believes Kiera is falling for Jesse.
He warns Jesse to stay away from Kiera, who then breaks up with Ron. Karen and Jesse are befriended by Jensen Edison (Omari Hardwick), a stylist and Klent’s closet-friend, and Emma Rogers (Alice Eve), Klent’s ex-girlfriend who is a former famous model and singer. After finally completing their training, the ten candidates are taken to a large forest in Russia, where the 33rd Survival Exams shall take place. Frazer puts the candidates into a two-man team – Karen is put with Edwin; Zander with Aaron; Mindy with Davis; Jesse with Kiera; and Ron with Jackson. Arthur Morris (Donald Sutherland), one of the three leaders of the Golden Dawn, announces the tournament will be nationally broadcast in television across the world, and that the 33rd exam challenge will be more different than its previous games and suggests they form an alliance. Arthur explains why they always commence the exams worldwide; to have candidates gain sponsors, which can be critical to survive becasue of their ability to send packages filled with medicine, tools and food to favored canidiates during the Survival Exams, from citizens.
The 33rd Survival Exams begins, and the ten candidates must rush across a field to obtain their weapons and supplies. However before they could do so, Jesse steps on a hidden trip-wire; activating secret hidden machines that begin shooting sharp-poison arrows across the field. The candidates manage to retrieve their supplies, but Jackson is hit by a poison arrow in the back and is fatally wounded. As Ron continues on, abandoning Jackson, Karen risks her life to try and help Jackson, but just after pulling him to safety, Jackson succumbs to his wounds and dies. Karen tells Edwin they should find Jesse and Kiera, wanting to form an alliance, but Edwin is not willing to work with anybody, stating any enemy is an enemy that should be put down, no matter who they are. Angry about this, Karen abandons Edwin the following morning and begins relying on her hunting and survival skills to remain unharmed and sets off to look for Jesse and Kiera, and if possible, Aaron. Meanwhile, Jesse and Kiera encounters ferocious hungry evolved mutated Tigers, and barely manage to get away. Zander forms alliances with Mindy and Davis; Aaron leaves the group in search for Karen, overhearing their plan to kill her before the others.
Ron tracks down Jesse and Kiera, and tries to kill Jesse in anger of Kiera leaving him over Jesse. Jesses overpowers Ron, who then saves Jesse from falling into a pit of deadly spikes. Before leaving, Ron tells Jesse the reason he saved him is because believes he will be a better boyfriend to Kiera than he was and leaves, entrusting Jesses to protect Kiera no matter what. Elsewhere, Karen becomes caught in a forest fire trap and suffers a severe born on her left leg. She survives, but after making her way to a lake, Karen flees when she is found by Zander, Mindy and Davis. They pursuit Karen and capture Karen, but Zander plans to keep her alive in the intention of finding and killing Jesse in front of her eyes. However, Karen escapes after knocking over jelly, which attracts deadly beetles, causing Zander, Mindy and Davis to flee.
The following morning, Karen is found by Aaron, and the pair locates Jesse and Kiera. Together, the trio tries to find shelter during a bad thunderstorm, but end up finding a wounded Edwin instead. Edwin leads the trio to his camp, where it is revealed to be an ambush set up by Zander, Mindy, Davis and Edwin as well. As the trio escapes, Kiera is impaled in the chest by Davis, who is then killed by Jesse in return. Kiera dies in Jesse’s arms, leaving him and Karen devastated. Jesse gives Kiera a proper burial, before leaving with Karen and Aaron. Aaron, who had been stabbed by Zander with a poison knife, falls unconscious, and the trio finds a cave, where they shelter themselves. Karen sets out to retrieve the medical package that she had dropped during her escape from the forest fire. Zander betrays and kills Edwin. Karen secures the medical package, but is persuade and attacked by Mindy, who subdues Karen and taunts her about killing Aaron and saving Jesse for an even better painful death. She is about to kill Karen, who is saved by Ron.
Enraged of Kiera’s death, Ron brutally beats and kills Mindy, and allows Karen to live, only to tell Jesse that he will kill him for failing to keep his promise in protecting Kiera. Karen makes her way back to the cave and injects the antidote into Aaron, curing him of the poison. With the game getting close to an end, the trio set out to kill their last two remaining enemies, Zander and Ron. They come across Ron battling Zander, who gains the upper hand on Ron and prepares to kill him. The trio intervenes, but despite Jesse’s help, Ron still attempts to kill him. However, they are all attacked by the mutated tigers and Ron is devoured. Karen, Aaron and Jesse escapes from the tigers, making their way up a cliff where Zander ambushes and attacks them. After a struggle, Karen and Aaron confront Zander, who holds Jesse hostage, preparing to snap his neck. Zander taunts Karen into shooting her arrow, and Karen does so, hitting Zander in his arm, allowing Jesse to get free and hurl Zander down the cliff. Zander is attacked by the mutant tigers, and Karen kills Zander, shooting him in the head with an arrow as a mercy kill.
With Karen, Jesse and Aaron as the three remaining candidates, they quickly realize that only two can remain alive, therefore, one of them has to die. The three decide to pull out straws, but Aaron willing volunteers, wanting Karen to be happy with Jesse. Aaron is stopped from committing suicide by Karen, who reveals her love feelings for him and she prepares to die with him. Jesse also decides to die with him, not wanting to live without Karen, but before they could commit suicide, the three are proclaimed as the winners of the 33rd Survival Exams. Weeks later, Karen continues to attend college with Aaron, who is now her boyfriend, with Jesse continuing high school and living with Aaron as his roommate. The three are visited by Klent, who warns that they’ve been made enemies of The Administers because of their defiance of breaking the rules. Meanwhile, at the Administer Mansion, where underneath is a secret prison of those who have defied the rules of the Survival Exams, Simon informs a living imprisoned John Matheson (Jon Tenney) of his kids, Karen and Jesse, winning the 33rd Survival Exams.
- Crystal Reed as Karen Matheson
- Max Irons as Aaron Rayfield
- Nick Jonas as Jesse Matheson
- Josh Dallas as Klent Harrison
- Alice Eve as Emma Rogers
- Omari Hardwick as Jensen Edison
- Mark Pellegrino as Simon Matheson
- Giovanni Ribisi as Robert Frazer
- Donald Sutherland as Arthur Morris
- Alexander Ludwig as Zander
- Tristan Wilds as Ron
- Keke Palmer as Kiera
- Isabelle Fuhrman as Mindy
- Jack Quaid as Davis
- Ricardo Hoyos as Edwin
- Luke Bilyk as Jackson
Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi and Thriller
James Newton Howard
Survival Exams 3: Retaliation