Jigsaw lies dead, but the games continue as the world’s most inept police detectives once again match wits with the criminal mastermind.
I praised the prior film for pivoting away from the police, but this entry begins like a cover band rattling off the hits.
We open with Jigsaw’s autopsy, which tries to out-gore the prior film’s brain surgery. The color in these scenes proves interesting—all muted save the blood red—but the sequence proffers no narrative stakes.
Next, we cut to a deathtrap featuring two men chained by the legs. Sound familiar? They fight and spray gallons of CGI blood. Then we get a S.W.A.T. team descending into a Jigsaw lair—a shot they could have lifted from part two. Then one cop, Rigg, loses his cool and storms ahead. Again, right out of part two.
He discovers Dina Meyer’s body from part three, now rotting and spouting rats. The FBI shows up onsite and Scott Patterson slots into the nominal head-cop-after-Jigsaw role. He’s fine, but the role proves interchangeable with others from the prior films. He exists to advance the plot and thus points out Jigsaw must have an unidentified accomplice. 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, seeing someone in his home at night and taking no evasive action. He then slots into the Jeff role from part three, with Jigsaw testing him. The film cross-cuts between Rigg and the rest of the force via snappy editing early, but this devolves into the usual hyper-kinetic jumbled mess as the film tries to juice up the deathtraps.
As the plot unfolds, we get an expanded origin for Jigsaw, meant to paint him as more sympathetic, but it only robs the character of his mystery and edge. The police demonstrate epic levels of incompetence, including dusting a loaded weapon for prints which—of course—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.
- Saw: The Complete Movie Collection, Lionsgate Films, 2014↩