The ‘Saw’ Movies in Review: ‘Saw 3D’
Well the fifth and sixth movies were more what I was expecting with this series of sequels…passable silliness. The third and fourth had gotten my hopes up for something a bit better. No this ‘final chapter’ (which I’ve just discovered isn’t true any more) can just wrap up what they’ve got left and end on a high note. Right?
Director: Kevin Greutert
Cast: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Sean Patrick Flanery, Cary Elwes
Plot: Hoffman is revealed as the new Jigsaw, implementing John Kramer’s plans while seeking retribution against Kramer’s ex-wife Jill Tuck. At the same time Bobby Dagen, who’s made a celebrity of himself by claiming to be a Jigsaw survivor, gets put to the test.
Review: I guess they’re not going to bother wrapping everything up. Or ending on a high note. It doesn’t feel like anyone had their heart in this project. Greutert wanted to direct a Paranormal Activity film for some reason, but was contractually forced to leave that project and replace David Hackl who’d just been booted. Reports are that Greutert was ‘dismayed’ to be working on Saw 3D and tried a massive rewrite two weeks before filming, which caused problems as all the casting and set building was locked in place. The whole thing was rushed through and cut down from two movies to one. It’s a shame because there’s some good ideas buried under all the garbage.
The concept of Jigsaw being a public figure has been touched on already and seemed a ripe topic for exploration. Initially it seemed like this movie was going to bring this to the forefront with the first trap taking place in a crowded public area and the victim making a fortune of Jigsaw’s notoriety. Instead we spend more time with dopey Hoffman (Mandylor). Although he’s been playing Jigsaw for more chronological chapters of the story than the original (Bell) he still can’t be trusted to design the games himself. Having a reveal in a flashback that Dagen (Flanery) was targeted by Kramer himself makes no sense at all, so they could’ve given this one to Hoffman.
The other key player is IA Agent Matt Gibson. Gibson is played by Chad Donella and holds the distinction of being possibly the worst actor I’ve ever seen in a lead role for a major studio franchise film. He can’t even act like he’s dead convincingly.
During an early scene in the film we’re surprised to see Cary Elwes turn up at a survivor support group and act weird. I wonder if he’s going to be involved in all this somehow? Oh, it turns out he is. Pro-tip: don’t put your twist in the first act of the movie and expect people to be surprised by it at the end. We do like the idea that Dr. Gordon has become an apprentice to Jigsaw, and it was hinted at earlier in the series, but it’s poorly implemented here. It’s basically a footnote and doesn’t impact on the rest of the film.
How’s this for an idea – instead of introducing a new character and putting him through the tests, use Hoffman as the subject. The movie starts with the IA guys finding out he’s the new Jigsaw and going on the hunt, but it’s to late. Hoffman has woken up in a fiendishly complicated Jigsaw trap being run by a mysterious figure. He has to use his own knowledge of Jigsaw’s techniques to try and outsmart his tormenter with Dr. Gordon being revealed to be the newest Jigsaw carrying out Kramer’s plan to get rid of Hoffman because, well, Hoffman’s an idiot, a liability and just wanted to be Jigsaw because someone killed his sister. That way we can tie up lose ends, have a cool final twist and stick with established characters. Boom.
Speaking of Hoffman, does he have the ability to bend the space/time continuum? He rigs an explosion to distract some cops so he can steal a dead body from a crime scene, sneak it away to prop it up at the warehouse where Dagen is being tested, dress it up in a robe, get back to the crime scene and hide inside a body bag to infiltrate the police station. How bloody long was this explosion? How did he set up the corpse AND hide in the body bag? I was CERTAIN this would be a clue to him having someone else helping him but at the end it looks like he was working alone. Perhaps the ghost of John Kramer materialised and did it, Tobin Bell wasn’t doing much else in the movie.
The only redeeming aspect of this final entry is the trap gauntlet. Bobby Dagen is a right prick (perfect casting for Sean Patrick Flanery), shamelessly cashing in on his made-up story of surviving Jigsaw and preaching to other survivors about appreciating life. Having his lawyer and publicist and other conspirators being part of the traps felt like karmic justice, something that contributes to what makes Jigsaw so interesting. Some of these traps are the best ones seen in the later films, except for the silly looking Transformer oven popping out of the ground at the end. The irony of having to actually partake in the trap he claimed to have escaped in the first place is amusing.
Oh, we also get some blatant fan service in the reverse bear-trap actually being activated on some-one’s face. Because trotting it out for the third time makes it more interesting. Here’s a picture of the aftermath for the curious:
The pieces are here for a great finale, but ironically this jigsaw hasn’t be properly assembled. The great twist is spoiled by having it turn up at the beginning of the film and having no impact on the story. We spend way to much time with Gibson, who is laughably bad. He’s giving a Tommy Wiseau level of performance here. Plus there’s that pervasive feeling that no-one really gives a shit any more.
Ah well. Now to find another franchise for a marathon review.
Rating: TWO out of TEN.
MOST HORRIFIC TRAP: Two words: fish hook. **Shudder**