Saturday, November 14, 2009

Review - Saw VI

In the sixth Saw film, Jigsaw is dead but, his plan continues to move in motion. Detective Hoffman, now the successor to the Jigsaw's games, has set a new game in motion. This time focusing on an Corporate Insurance agent who previously denied John from trying an experimental procedure to rid himself of cancer. With investigators closing in on Jigsaw and his games, Hoffman is faced with finally understanding Jigsaw's grand scheme.

I haven't been a fan of the Saw series since Part II. The original was ground breaking (at the time) and the sequel really did a fine job of expanding the mythos of Jigsaw and his deadly games. Since then however, the series has been a huge mess. Part's III-V are a progressive nightmare with each one becoming more and more convoluted and ridiculous than the next. Luckily, "Saw VI" is a step in the right direction and the best film in the series since Part II.

The Saw series is definitely not for everyone. If you are not a fan of gore, there really is no reason to watch the films. Every movie is filled with gnarly games that see no small amount of flesh or blood spilled and "Saw VI" is no different. Like the previous tests in the horror series, 'VI' has several games that are played, each of which are pretty graphic. A solid majority of the games played here in 'VI' are impressive. I haven't been pleased with most of the games in the preceding sequels, but "Saw VI" rejuvenated my appreciation for Jigsaw's scheme.

Where "Saw VI" succeeds the most is in it's ever expanding backstory. Director Kevin Greutert really does bring the series full circle. All of the flashbacks of John with his wife and with his apprentices are some of the best we seen to date since his death. Screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, do an intriguing job of tying up all of the loose ends from the last four films in the series. They clean up the mess made by previous directors, writers and inject a much needed dose of interest. Something I never thought I'd say, I am actually excited to see how the next film plays out.

"Saw VI" isn't all good by any means. The acting is still subpar sans Tobin Bell as John Kramer/Jigsaw. Bell is masterful once again as Jigsaw and I love that the writers have found fresh ways to keep him alive (in spirit) in each of the sequels. Shawnee Smith, who returns via flashbacks as Amanda (Jigsaw's first apprentice), does a decent job with limited screen time. Costas Mandylor as Hoffman and Betsy Russell as Jill (John's wife) however are pretty disappointing with their performances. They both feel flat throughout the 90 minute running time. To make matters worse, both Mandylor and Russell are stale even when faced with the more devastating moments in the script. As far as the people caught within Jigsaw's deadly games, only Tanedra Howard as Simone stood out in her portrayal. The rest of the actors felt only as mere pawns in Jigsaw's game. Which in retrospect, could be exactly what director Kevin Greutert wanted.

In a series that had begin to feel as though it was stretching itself too thin, "Saw VI" solidified that there is still some story left to tell within Jigsaw's grand scheme. The Saw series, feels like two separate trilogies. One, outlining John Kramer and his plan to creating tests or games which individuals are faced with their will to live through various means of torture. The second, focusing on carrying out John Kramer/Jigsaw's legacy. Both sets of trilogies have also outlined John's apprentice's. The first with Amanda and the second, Officer Hoffman. Much like the previous films, "Saw VI" ends with a big reveal, one that left me pretty intrigued to see a third trilogy and apprentice play out on screen.