Rated R for a stupid amount of brutality coupled with some harsh language. There are some jump scares in the movie and I know that's a button that people don't like getting pushed. I don't mind jump scares so much as just the gore for the sake of gore. Really, I can safely say that there's nothing redeeming in watching a Saw sequel, so you at least know what you signed up for. R.
DIRECTOR: Kevin Greutert
Why? I don't like these movies! I don't. I liked the first Saw way more than I thought I would. I thought that the franchise might Fast and Furious its way into my heart. Do you know what? These movies are straight trash. Mind you, I just read that the consensus is that this is the worst in the franchise. I'm really validated by that takeaway because I don't know what I was going to do about Jigsaw, Spiral: From the Book of Saw. or Saw X. But people hate this movie and, no offense to people who probably worked very hard making it, they're kind of right.
Studios have weird logic. 20th Century Fox thought that Deadpool was going to be a bomb, so they cut the budget midfilming. When that movie proved to be the most lucrative thing that they had going, they threw all of the money at Deadpool 2. Not Lionsgate. Oh no. They took a movie made on the cheap. That movie made them a ton of money. They then made them on the cheaper because "why spend money"? I know that technically this is a 3D movie, which in my money has to cost a lot more. It does not look like it cost a lot more. Most television looks better than this movie. This looks like someone self-financed the film and then stocked the movie with all of his little buddies. There's nothing really good about this movie. All the budget went into begging Cary Elwes to come back for very little of this movie, despite the fact that his character is instrumental to this franchise. I'm going to talk about Cary Elwes at some point in this blog, right? I hope I am because I have thoughts. But this is barely a movie. Henson down the hall just showed me a Christian version of Saw called The Redeemer. Slow down, he showed me a trailer and dared me to watch it. I don't watch movies because I want them to be bad. (Although I am planning on watching Plan 9 from Outer Space because I want to watch Ed Wood.) But there's almost nothing in this movie that actually qualifies it to be a cinematic release.
Ignoring the fact that it visually looks terrible and that the actors are almost cast exclusively from GettyImages for being stock archetypes, the movie almost ignores what little goodwill that the franchise has loosely gained. Listen, Saw movies tend to be manipulative. But one thing that has always kind of been the case is the final act. You kind of sit through this torture porn (which I know a lot of people really sign up for) to get to the final game. The final game, from what I remember, has tended to be an exercise in misdirection. We think we're looking at one thing and then we get another. Jigsaw will always have the one up on us and everything tends to get recontextualized. Saw 3D really tried pulling this card. But there was nothing in the chamber, which is funny because the movie is billed as "The Final Chapter". You would think that there would be bold moves and decisions made about the franchise. Maybe there would be a promise that there could be no more Saw movies. After all, one of the few noble things that Saw has done is keep the film non-supernatural. I dare not use the word "grounded" because there are some truly outlandish elements. But this final sequence?
One of the key tenets of the franchise, which I will begrudgingly allow the understanding that Detective Mark Hoffman (whom I will probably refer to as Mark Brandanowitz because of his lack of chemistry. My apologies to both actors.) doesn't always care about the rules, is that Jigsaw is making people care about their lives. This one really stretches the imagination on that one. Brandanowitz (see?!) just slaughters a bunch of cops for his own needs. Also, those cops are doing the things that John Kramer wanted. They should be out there giving their all to stopping a murderer. That's part of the central irony of Saw. In the case of Bobby, there's something to be said. I can see Jigsaw really getting mad at someone manipulating victims for the sake of profit and success. That's on brand. But almost everyone else? Why are they being put in these traps. There are two specific victims that I want to stress in terms of "What's the logic?" Now, before you scream "Brandanowitz Jigsaw! Doesn't count!" Nope. The flashback shows John planning these murders. Sorry.
Let's talk about Joyce really quickly. I get why she's in the trap. She's motivation for Bobby. But this is just fridging a character. Jigsaw states that Joyce saw the light of Jigsaw's message, even if it came from a dishonest place. So why is Joyce in this trap? The point of Jigsaw is to make people appreciate their lives by putting them into mutilating traps that would encourage them to question the stupid stuff. Joyce learned from Jigsaw and basically became a follower of this mentality. Don't murder her. Okay, maybe there was a scenario where Bobby figured out a way to get her out. After all, there is an element of risk and assumption that people wouldn't be able to get through these horrific traps. It's what makes a movie, after all. But Jigsaw gives Bobby a trap based on what he said in the past. He went on these talk shows and said that he put hooks in his pectoral muscles and was lifted from the floor. Jigsaw creates the trap he describes and is even dubious in his voice message, implying that pectoral muscles wouldn't be able to suspend a grown man. Sure enough, Bobby goes through the trap. His pectoral muscles snap. Joyce burns to death. Now, if there was a way to get her out of that, I would say "Okay, I can shut my brain off." But as is established, that doesn't really work out that way. It's going against the very nature of the story.
Then there's the part that I want to laugh at. Guy wakes up in a car. He's superglued to the seat. Beneath the wheel of the suspended car is a lady's face. Behind him is a guy chained to the back of the car. There's a guy in front of him chained to a door. Guy hits tape. "You and your friends are racists." What is that writing? Okay, Jigsaw should absolutely kill racists. But is that the story at all? Okay, the racists all die. Thumbs up on that front. But let's pretend that the racist, despite the fact that he gave his all to escape, actually pulled the lever in time to escape. Would he stop being racist? If anything, he would just accuse Jigsaw of being a dem and then become a bigger racist. I don't see a scenario where he would take this introspective journey about his choices in life. No. There was a guy who was a lib who kidnapped him. He told him to stop being conservative. That dude overpowered that weak lib's trap and would probably go out and hunt other libs. I've lived in America for a long time. That's how things would play out. Nope. I call shannanigans real hard.
And now: Cary Elwes. I almost just closed this up because I'm having difficulty writing this blog entry. There's all kinds of noise and I don't like this movie. Cary Elwes looks like he hates the Saw movies. I liked the first Saw movie, as previously stated. But even in that movie, I felt like Cary Elwes was slumming it. He looked like he hated every minute of that filming, despite the fact that Saw was apparently a fun independent film. (I read something about how hard it was to film that movie because of budget stuff.) I thought the same thing about Michael Douglas in Ant-Man. But Michael Douglas quickly learned that this was his way back into the spotlight. Cary Elwes, still feels like he's slumming it. He just hates every second of this movie. Understandably. But even more so, his character makes no sense in this movie. There's retconning and then there's this. I know that one of the characters (Amanda?) was a survivor who became Jigsaw's accomplice. Okay. That's fine. But that was very clear with what (for the sake of simplicity) Amanda was in charge of.
But Cary Elwes was nowhere near the rest of the movies. Also, like it really implied that Cary Elwes's character died. I know. "Implied." Fine. But you can't have a glorified cameo be a key plot point. I know that Cary Elwes is not Jigsaw, right? It's not like he's this guy who has committed to making a bunch of these movies. And sure, Jigsaw and Saw X are both prequels. Spiral is a spin-off. But that reveal is dumb. But potential points...maybe Saw 3D is actually the final chapter. If everything else is a prequel, maybe this is the one franchise that actually closed the door (no pun intended) on the series. Sure, there are other movies, but they aren't technically sequels. Either way, that ending is unearned and a deus ex machina (only replace "God" with "Disdainful Cary Elwes"). Nothing is earned in this movie. It just ends. It. Just. Ends. I know that Final Chapters in these franchises aren't always the best movies. Some of you are howling over Friday the 13th. But this is an all time low.
This movie is so bad. It's so bad. It's barely a movie. Thank God that people swear that these movies get better. It's not like the reviews, shy of Saw X, are anything to write home about. But they aren't 9% approval ratings. This is a movie deserving of shame.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.