Picking up where part four ends, Scott Patterson returns as an FBI agent pursuing Jigsaw’s mystery accomplice. Spoilers follow.
Astute viewers will recognize this film picks up not only where part four ended but also where part three ended. The franchise’s commitment to weaving the films together has run up against the barrier of Jigsaw’s death. Unable to move forward in time without a suitable antagonist, the films resort to working backward, with part four’s ending revealing the entire film as a flashback.
This entry continues the trend, opening with a “Pit and the Pendulum” inspired deathtrap that’s later revealed as a flashback. Trite framing aside, the scene’s fantastic, heralding series production designer David Hackl’s promotion to the director’s chair. The thunderstorm is a welcome atmospheric touch, as is the over-the-top gore. Just don’t think too hard about how it fits into the series’ continuity.
From here, the narrative inches forward. Patterson displays an unprecedented amount of ingenuity early, escaping a deathtrap by giving himself a tracheotomy. This proves the pinnacle of his resourcefulness. He spends the rest of the film uncovering Jigsaw’s accomplice via basic police work. This triggers ample flashbacks, providing Jigsaw with significant screen-time, despite still being dead.
Unlike the prior film, which saddled him with an unnecessary origin story, these flashbacks showcase Jigsaw in his prime. We see him recruit his accomplice and set up the traps from the first three films1. Freed of moral and physical turmoil, Tobin Bell’s bare-bones performance shines. He radiates an icy calm that proves both chilling and charismatic.
In parallel, we get a scenario reminiscent of part two. Several strangers must discover their connection to one another while surviving a series of death traps. In a welcome change, this side plot exists independent of the main thread. This makes for less contrived plotting albeit with lesser narrative stakes. I’ll take it over part two’s overt melodrama.
This entry also eschews the usual twist ending. While I appreciated the streamlined narrative, I confess to some disappointment. I thought the new Jigsaw was a red herring. His backstory and character were so trite, I couldn’t imagine the franchise committing to them. Thus, I believed the ending would reveal someone else as continuing the legacy. It did not. But there’s always the sequel.
- Including the gun behind the door in part two. A gun which Jigsaw’s accomplice handles without gloves prior to wiring it into the trap.↩
- Saw: The Complete Movie Collection, Lionsgate Films, 2014↩