In my opinion, the Saw franchise should have ended after film three. Some might make the argument that it should have just ended after film one. The first Saw film I genuinely loved – it was dark, disturbing, and actually had some great twists; especially the ending. Saw 2 and Saw 3 were also pretty good, but after that the story became increasingly jumbled, and it became more about the traps and gore. After getting the supposed “Final Chapter” in 2010, the Saw franchise pulled a Friday 13th on us and brought back ANOTHER Saw film, this one called (rather appropriately) Jigsaw.
Now don’t get me wrong, Saw at it’s time was a very influential film that sparked a cultural fandom. And I think Jigsaw, played by the brilliant Tobin Bell, is one of the best film villains of all time. But did we really need any more Saw films? Spoiler alert – no. No we didn’t.
Still, I guess we can check this one out.
Ten years after the Jigsaw killer is supposedly dead, it seems that another game is afoot! Five people are trapped in one of Jigsaw’s nefarious games and the police have to try and save them. But is this really Jigsaw, or a copycat killer?
WHAT I LIKED
Saw has always had a focus on the traps that people are put through – and to the creators credit, the traps have always been inventive, if not overly bloody. There is a disturbing beauty to their quality and, from a set design’s point, they’ve always delivered. Here, the traps are a bit more simplistic and, for the most part, not as gory. In fact, this one feels a bit more “restrained” than other outings, which is great. A lot of the traps could probably be solved by using common sense (one example is a door that said “No Exit” and yet some silly bugger STILL tries to go through it!) but hey ho – when did films ever use common sense?
Like previous Saw instalments, the use of heavy twists is used to great effect here. Given that this film has been out a while, and that I did give a spoiler warning, I’ll assume most people have seen it already, so I think I can spoil a few things.
Firstly, the “game” that runs through Jigsaw seems like it’s running real time with the main plot, but it turns out to actually be in the past, making it a non-linear narrative. This was used similarly in Saw 2 and it worked well, and it worked ok well here I guess. Of course, if you REALLY watch the film, there are tons of clues that hint towards this. Or you can just go on YouTube. That’s what I did. There are also some clever turns to the way they play out. One example being the last game where the Jigsaw killer reveals to the surviving characters that their “key” is a shotgun shell, only to reveal that the actual key was INSIDE the shell all along. People think Jigsaw is crazy, but he does at least give his victims a chance.
And it was great to see Tobin Bell return as Jigsaw – in the past bits that is. In essence, Jigsaw is a kind of prequel to see how Jigsaw performed his first game. This at least answered my “How the hell is he still alive?” question when we all saw him get his throat cut in Saw 3.
I did also like the music in this film, in particular the “Metal” track that was played during the blender trap. It made it more energetic than scary, but I liked it.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The problem with the Saw films is that, once you’ve seen a few, you EXPECT a twist to happen. And twists aren’t nearly as powerful if you know one is coming. And whilst the ending of the first Saw was a really good one, the previous ones have never really captured that same feeling. And most of the time, they’ve just made the story that much more convoluted. Here is no exception.
There are many bait and switches and red herrings as to who the Jigsaw killer is in this film, but the reveal is – kinda annoying. As mentioned, the game played in the film is actually a flashback to a previous game – in which the supposed hero of the film, Logan (a surgeon and former solider) was a player. Basically, he accidentally got Jigsaw’s MRI results mixed up so that his cancer wasn’t detected early enough. He became an apprentice of his because Jigsaw didn’t want to punish him for a mistake. He then helped Jigsaw create a lot of the traps for him and helped him as his first apprentice. Then later on, he decided to recreate this first game, using criminals that had been set free by a corrupt cop Halloran so that he could get Halloran to confess as the guy that murdered Logan’s wife was ALSO his informant – and the first one he used in this game. All so that he could frame Halloran for being the new Jigsaw and he can avenge his wife’s death.
Confused? I sure as hell was!
For one thing, if Jigsaw forgave Logan for the mistake, why did he put him in the trap in the first place? What if he had died? What would he have done then? And if this guy is really responsible for helping Jigsaw in the previous films, where the hell was he all this time? And how was he able to remain undetected for so long when other of his apprentices got caught out eventually? One of which was even a policeman and even he couldn’t keep his tracks covered forever.
This is the problem I have with the Saw films – they try to add in all these twists by having certain characters appear as his apprentices, but it just ends up making the story that more confusing. If you have to make another film just to explain why said person did this, that’s just lazy. This is why it should have just ended after Saw 3. Oh, and the characters were nothing really – not one of them really stood out enough to care about. In fact, most of them just ended up being downright horrible. For example, there was one woman who apparently blamed her husband for rolling over and crushing her baby, when in fact it was HER that smothered her child and then framed her husband – not cool. I was actually glad when she got killed.
Over all, this wasn’t anything we haven’t seen in any previous Saw movies. Pretty much just a copy and paste of previous instalments.
This is a franchise that, whilst I kinda like it, it’s gone way longer than it should have. Jigsaw sadly just doesn’t add anything new to it, but instead just complicates it further. Admittedly, it held back on the blood a little, which is good – but otherwise it’s just a jumbled mess for anyone that hasn’t already seen the previous films.
If you’re a fan of Saw then you might like Jigsaw. It has it’s ups, but for me it has more downs. And considering there might be another Jigsaw film in the future, I don’t really hold much hope for it.
FINAL SCORE: 2/5