Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saw VI

Picking right off where the last one stopped, the sinister Detective Hoffman is still trying to frame the newly deceased Agent Strahm for the Jigsaw murders, while his superiors close in on the truth. Meanwhile, Jigsaw's supposedly final game is put in motion, where a heartless insurance executive is forced to choose which of his colleagues lives and dies, based around the very policies he determined for accepting/deny insurance claims.

By far the most standout element of Saw VI is its attempt at some form of social relevance, which has been entirely missing from the series until now. Not just the health care stuff I mentioned above, there's also a part where predatory lenders are forced to pay the Shylock toll (pound of flesh) to save their lives. I'm not sure if the filmmakers genuinely wanted to express their political beliefs, or if it was cynical stab at being topical in an effort at grabbing a few more dollars. If it's the former, I'm not sure that it's either effective or appropriate commentary, but it is novel and highly amusing that they went for it. If it's the latter, then it didn't work, because Saw VI just had the worst opening weekend of the entire series, by a long shot. (I'm still hoping we get a part VII, but the prospects are looking less hot).

I think overall this was an improvement over part V, more consistently fun, better traps, tighter screenplay that answers more questions, a good twist near the end, and an overall sense that more was being accomplished (part V felt at times more like a detour or backstory than it did a full fledged Saw sequel). Yet it has almost the opposite problem as part V. V felt slight but built up to a highly satisfying conclusion; VI was better all around, but when the credits rolled I felt like it was missing the last 5 minutes. Hoffman is finally tested, as promised in part IV, but a) the test involves a trap we've already seen, b) there's no irony or cleverness to the test, and there's not even a tape-recorded message from Jigsaw, and c) it's over too quickly without much payoff. I almost wished they had left it as a cliffhanger.

I think it's official now that the series peaked in III and IV, the filmmakers are never going to top the delicious absurdity of those films. Still, I'm on board if they do go ahead with Saw VII. I'm hooked into Saw's ongoing, soap opera-esque convoluted storyline and not ready to give it up yet. Plus, how many other sequels do you know that open by showing you the pulverized corpse of the previous film's protagonist? That alone was funny enough to cover the cost of admission.

No comments: