Jigsaw lies dead, but the games continue as the world’s most inept police detectives once again match wits with the criminal mastermind.
We open with Jigsaw’s autopsy, which tries to out-gore the prior film’s brain surgery. The color in these scenes proves interesting—muted save the blood red—but the sequence proffers no narrative stakes.
Next, we cut to a deathtrap reminiscent of part one featuring two men chained by the legs. They fight and spray gallons of CGI blood. Then we get a S.W.A.T. team descending into a Jigsaw lair—a scene they could have lifted from part two. A cop named Rigg loses his cool and storms ahead.
Rigg discovers Dina Meyer’s body from part three, now rotting and spouting rats. The FBI shows up onsite and Scott Patterson slots into the head-cop-after-Jigsaw role held by Danny Glover, Donnie Wahlberg, and Dina Meyer in prior films. Patterson announces Jigsaw must have an unidentified accomplice. Stunned by his insight, the police file out. The film’s lone bright spot occurs here, when, as the scene closes, a voice off camera says, “Somebody get those rats off her,” like they were reminding someone to turn off the lights. I laughed aloud.
Meanwhile, Rigg inherits the “Did you even go through basic training?” mantle from Meyer. He sees someone sneaking through his home at night and takes no evasive action. As a result, he’s trapped by Jigsaw, who begins testing him. The film cross-cuts between Rigg and the rest of the force via snappy editing early, but this devolves into a hyper-kinetic jumbled mess as the film tries to juice up the deathtraps.
As the plot unfolds, we get an expanded origin for Jigsaw. It’s meant to paint him as more sympathetic, but robs him of his mystery and edge. The police demonstrate epic levels of incompetence, including dusting a loaded weapon for prints which fires and kills another officer. They pollute crime scenes, mishandle evidence, and fail to follow basic safety procedures, even though they’re dealing with a criminal known for his sadistic booby-traps.
The finale packs the requisite twist, though this time it’s recycled from the three prior films, and feels less surprising than preposterous.
If the above seems convoluted and expects familiarity with the earlier films, then I have conveyed a sense of the viewing experience.