In full disclosure, this was the first 3D movie that I’ve ever seen (with the 3D effects/glasses); as a huge Saw fan, I honestly found the 3D effects to be annoyingly unnecessary, as my primary focus was on the storyline and the new traps (in that order). Yes, a few of the effects were interesting, but overall, I would have preferred to have watched the movie in 2D, and the price tag for the 3D effect was definitely not worth the payoff.
Having said that, the movie begins with a tease of what happened to Dr. Lawrence Gordon (played by Cary Elwes) after he sawed off his foot in the original Saw, in an attempt to escape his confinement and save his family. The movie then cuts away to the first Saw “game” that has ever been performed “in public,” involving a ho-bag and her two male lovers. The 3D effect is on full display during this scene, and it is one of the best opening traps of all the movies (the best trap was in the opening scene from Saw 6, a review of which can be found here.
The movie proceeds to focus on two plots; (a) the revenge of the “reverse bear trap on his head” surviving Detective Mark Hoffman, as he hunts down an immunity and police-protected Jill Tuck (Jigsaw’s ex-wife and one of his accomplices), and (b) the newest game, which involves Bobby, a man who pretends to be a Jigsaw “survivor,” when in reality, he is a cash-grabbing liar, spinning his false story into a profitable book and talk show appearances. You just know that things are going to go badly for Bobby and his team of co-conspirators.
Leading the charge in trying to stop Hoffman is Matt Gibson, an Internal Affairs Detective, whose life was saved by Hoffman years earlier. In a flashback scene, Hoffman ends up shooting Gibson’s attacker, long after the attacker was disarmed and surrendered. This scene, while establishing the relationship between Gibson and Hoffman (Gibson rats out Hoffman for his actions, ironically leading to Hoffman’s promotion), also serves to highlight the differences between Jigsaw and Hoffman. Jigsaw claims in the prior movies that he never murdered anyone; that he always gave people the chance to make a choice between life and death, and that he found murder to be distasteful. Comparatively, we’ve seen from Saw 5 to the present movie how Hoffman will freely kill those who get in his way, without remorse, to serve his needs. Even Amanda (the great Shawnee Smith), Jigsaw’s other protégée, didn’t murder anyone to obtain a selfish goal; she felt compassion for Adam, killing him out of mercy in Saw 3, rather than allowing him to starve to death.
The film boasts the most “traps” out of any Saw movie, and while the traps are interesting, the majority are takeoffs of prior ideas, albeit more gruesome and in 3D (if, unlike me, you like 3D effects, the blood and body parts that occasionally fly your way will make your day). An additional problem is that there really isn’t a sense of connection between any of the trap victims and the audience, save one person (Bobby’s beautiful wife, played by Gina Holden, who is innocently unaware of Bobby’s farcical tale about surviving a Jigsaw trap). In prior movies, the audience would feel a connection to either the person playing the game or most of the trap victims. Here, there really isn’t any emotional investment in the characters of the last game, which negatively sets the movie apart from its predecessors.
The other main problem that I had with the film was the lack of Tobin Bell. After his death in Saw 3, the man who plays Jigsaw would appear throughout the remaining sequels in flashback scenes. Knowing that this is the final movie, I can’t figure out why the writers only had Jigsaw make two appearances during the entire movie, for a mere eight minutes of screen time – it’s inexcusable!
As for the good parts of the movie, Costas Mandylor’s presence (as Detective Hoffman) has improved over the course of the series, culminating in his surprising survival of the reverse bear trap at the end of Saw 6. Watching him rebound from a partially torn jaw to meticulously plot his revenge against Jill made me want to see him settle the score.
Additionally, the scene where Jigsaw’s survivors meet on a regular basis to emotionally support each other was very creative. I loved seeing how many characters I recognized from the films, and trying to remember in which film they survived.
The clear highlight of the film was the end, as once again, the writers did a great job of tying everything together. Inevitably, the Saw movies always go back to the franchise’s roots, and without spoiling the ending, the final scenes succeed in maintain this theme.
When compared to other horror franchises, the Saw movies are at the top of the chain(saw); in every other horror series, at least one movie has stood out as virtually unwatchable. I recently wasted 3 hours of my life watching Friday the 13th Parts V and VI, which was comparable to having my eyes carved out with a spoon (I could have been playing videogames instead of watching that crap!). Everyone knows how terrible Halloween 3, 4 and 5 were. And, lest we forget the awfulness of the later entries of the Nightmare on Elm Street series. These movies became parodies of themselves, all in the name of squeezing every last dollar out of the genre-loving public.
All sequels are made primarily because of the return of investment of “guaranteeing” a part of the prior movie’s financial haul. The difference between the Saw franchise and all other horror franchises is that the writers make a concentrated effort to tie each movie to the previous installment, in order to fully flesh-out why certain characters acted and reacted the way they did, and how the elaborate kidnappings/traps were set-up and executed. To that end, the current movie succeeds, though to a lesser degree than any other installment of the franchise.
2 ½ out of 5 Stars. www.screenspotlight.com
Copyright © 2010 Screen Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
Certain product data © 2010-present Screen Media, Inc. For personal use only. All rights reserved.