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Movie Review

Saw III

MPAA Rating: R for strong grisly violence and gore, sequences of terror and torture, nudity and language

Reviewed by: Andrew Amick
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Crime, Horror, Thriller, Suspense, Torture Porn, Sequel
Length:
1 hr. 47 min.
Year of Release:
2006
USA Release:
October 27, 2006 (wide)
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Lions Gate Films

How does viewing violence in movies affect the family? Answer

Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem?

Reviews

Saw I (2004)

Saw II (2005)

Saw IV (2007)

Saw V (2008)

Saw VI (2009)

Saw 3D: The Traps Come Alive (2010)

Featuring: Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Bahar Soomekh, Angus MacFadyen, Dina Meyer
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Producer: Leigh Whannell, James Wan, Stacey Testro
Distributor: Lions Gate Films

“Like Father, Like Daughter.”

The violence, as expected, is over-the-top, and that is an understatement. If Saw was the brains, Saw II was the brauns, then “Saw III” would certainly be their all-surpassing child, with scenes including the bludgeoning and breaking of limbs, the slow crunch and twists of every limb on a machine called “The Rack,” the screams of a woman hanging in a freezer being sprayed with water, self-mutilation, a seizure, shotgun blasts to the head, throats cut, ribcage ripped out, and a few other grotesques. The violence is the biggest vice of this movie, but I will explain more on this later.

Bottom Line: The violence is horrendous, disgusting, and gratuitous. But it isn’t all without reason.

The language is heavy with profanity (actually, few uses of God’s name in vain, ironically), but not much else can be expected considering the context of the entire movie. The language is most heavy with the F-words, S-words, and scarcely the B-word.

Bottom Line: The profanity is heavy, but only fitting for a movie like this.

There is no sex, but only one scene of almost tortuous nudity. A woman is strung up, naked, in a freezer, as mist sprays her. The scene is not sexual in the least, but conversely—it is a scene of torture—it is only of Jeff’s tests of forgiveness.

Bottom Line: There is nudity, but it isn’t graphic or sexual. Instead, it is a short view.

The twists and turns of the morals amplify, contradict, agree with, and suppress each other. The covering moral of the movie is that hate, vengeance, revenge, and complacency brings more pain than anything else, and does not solve anything. It ruins families, destroys relationships, clouds judgment, and is at its core: self-destruction. Jeff had to suffer greatly as he watched those he he hated be tortured, first overwhelmed by rage, and then compassion for his fellow humans. Jeff must also confront the hate in himself, and whether he will watch the victims die and become a murderer at heart (remember, Jesus said that if you have hate in your heart, you’ve already murdered). Jeff was so swallowed up by his rage, and lived with nothing but vengeance, that he lost everything and couldn’t see how bad it was until he saw the victims in their most human form, writhing in pain.

Bottom Line: The morals draw a complicated web of virtue and vice. I leave it up to interpretation to whether it was a lesson in vain or vindicated.

Unlike its predecessor, “Saw III” boasts a strong storyline; a plotline of humanity in its joy, sorrow, loss, gain, life, and death. Saw III works on the feelings of revenge, hate, forgiveness, gratefulness, envy, wrath, cruelty, compassion—feelings that all humans have fallen to and some remain in, all which require some loss and feelings of suffering to overcome. Yes, I can agree that dirty violence is not a good presentation of such a moral point; because the rebirth of Christians (born-again Christians) is the same thing: we shed things like fear, hate, revenge, envy, and grow to be better, to be more Christ-like. “Saw III” tries to accomplish this moral standpoint, just without any direct reference to Christians, God, or any of that sort.

Bottom Line: I leave it up to interpretation to whether, again, the storyline is redemptive or not.

I must add here, my own opinion and somewhat a justification on the amount of violence used. I may be de-sensitized to violence (I am Christian, but have not had the privilege of having Christian parents, a Christian home, and moving around a lot has ruined any chance of being a church regular), but I find that though the violence in “Saw III” is very over-the-top, I can think of no other movie that delivers just a poignant, universal, human, personal, and applicable moral as effectively: living with hate and vengeance only makes the pain greater, and forgiveness is the ultimate everything (Hey wait, didn’t Jesus ask God to forgive us humans, even in his last dying moment?). I can agree that the violence is sickening, and this may be my over-sensitivity speaking, but I find that the storyline and lessons to be a justifiable end to the disgusting means.

I would argue that if I can handle the dirty torture of “The Passion of the Christ” (tastefulness and value is not the issue here: torture is torture), I can sit through three death-traps and brain surgery in “Saw III.” There are few movies out there that are so morally poignant and can still keep a clean slate as far as violence and language, and still be as poignant and relative to its audience. Instead, we get movies like “Saw III,” and as grossly violent as they are, offer a moral poignancy that all humans can relate to—not just Christians (as most Christian movies do), not just this or that certain group. For this I must praise “Saw III,” but for its unnecessary violence, I must not fully condone it.

Summary: The violence is horrendous and dirty. The language is heavy. The nudity is minor. The storyline is complicated and, left up to interpretation, is a very enlightening or a very disgusting one. I do not recommend this movie to anyone who cannot tolerate violence, or extreme violence even. If you could not handle the torture violence of “The Passion of the Christ,” the previous “Saw” movies, or “The Cell,” then “Saw III” will be, by a long shot, too much for you. Children should never see this; those offended by language should not see this.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Jigsaw is at it again with his lesson plans! Incredibly, this movie soars with good moral values. It is about forgiveness. It is about how someone can rot inside and be dead in their living bodies because of tragedy and/or circumstance and the effect it has on other people around that lifeless person. I do not agree with Jigsaw’s methods, nor do I agree with Jigsaw playing God; I do believe “Saw III” is about people healing and that the road to that healing is often very painful and can be brutal. The movie can be offensive for language (which is against Biblical teaching), although profanity is light. If you are sensitive to the stomach or easy to have your dinner on your lap, I would not advise this movie or I would advise you to forgo dinner until after the movie. It can be offensive as there are scenes where a woman is tied naked awaiting possible demise (which is against Biblical teaching). The scenes with the naked woman are not in any way slanting toward sexuality or any of its counter-parts, rather it brings about the enormity of the situation for the woman or anyone in her place about to face her dilemma.

Christians will find this movie offensive, as Jigsaw is playing God (which is against Biblical teaching) by being the Puzzle Maker. Jigsaw does NOT condone murder, and this is made clear throughout the movie. Jigsaws' lessons however dictate either you fight for your life or basically you commit suicide (which is against Biblical teaching). In short, I would keep the young ones at home (infants-15yr. olds), and eat lightly before attending the show. I think you will go home with your mind and heart reaching ever upward to our Heavenly Father and thanking HIM for his guidance on our own spiritual path.
My Ratings: Offensive / 5
—Valerie Bishop, age 33
Positive—All 3 of the Saw movie have an amazing story to them, and it is true that we should all appreciate life. Look at it this way, at least you have a glass to fill. “Saw 3” has some extremely gory scenes that I wouldn’t recommend a younger viewer watch. In the 3rd movie of the series there are some unexpected twists and turns to the sequel.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4½
—Jen, age 31
Positive—I have to take a moment to express my shock at seeing a very young child in the theater. This poor little girl was there with both of her parents, who clearly have no idea regarding the welfare of their child. This girl could not have been more than 6 years old, and my heart is broken that she had to endure one of the most grotesque, horrifying movies that I, as an adult, have ever seen. I know that children of any age can view R-rated movies, if accompanied by their parents. This is a travesty. I am an attorney and deal with juvenile matters often, and the children I see are the same children whose parents took them to movies such as “Saw III” when they were children. Children with parents who have no idea how to raise a child.

I believe that every movie theater has a moral obligation to every child without competent parents to protect them from these kinds of movies. Even though this child legally saw this movie with her idiot parents, I am appalled that theaters allows this to go on. Why do theaters not have a policy establishing the minimum age a child must be in order to see a rated-R movie, even with their parents? Someone has to protect and look out for these children whose parents either don’t know any better or do not care enough to look out for their own child’s best interests.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 5
—Erin Schmidt, esq., age 25
Positive—What a ride. From the opening scene to the closing scene, this movie is one entertaining thrill ride. The film has to be given credit for a very strong plot, great actors, great story line and so on. Even though this movie is highly entertaining, I think it’s no surprise to anyone that it’s very violent (thus the movie title “Saw III”). Although it is a horror/torture/suspense film, it has a much better storyline than “Hostel,” “Chainsaw Massacre,” etc. Except the violence, which is a given in this kind of film, there is some objectionable content. The “f” word is said about 15 times in the film. And a nude lady whose bare breasts including her nipples and behind are seen for about 3 minutes total, being hung by her hands, being tortured in a freezer with water that later freezes her to death. However, the movie is worth the money to see.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 4½
—John, age 18
Negative
Negative—Horrible lighting the entire time, it is horrible when your eyes strain the entire movie; it left me with a headache upon completion. I like horror movies, like anyone else, and I understand the subject matter of this movie is forgiveness, however, I believe they could have conveyed this message with a little more class. There were portions of this movie I greatly enjoyed, most scenes were sub-par in my opinion. A lot of the acting was sub-par as well… I genuinely hope there is not a Saw 4, because I will definitely not waste my time or money going to see it…
My Ratings: Offensive / 2½
—Nick, age 21
Negative—Dear Lord, how far have we all fallen? …I am far from innocent in my viewing choices, and I enjoy many movies that have strong violence, such as “Munich,” “Man on Fire,” “Collateral,” and the like. But how can someone enjoy watching a film about people being tortured in grotesque ways? This movie has about the same moral message as “Phonebooth,” but done with literally 1000x more violence. Not only that, people are even saying 'this film has a great moral, and the violence is done tastefully.' Or how about 'Well, ‘The Passion of the Christ’ had violent torture, too.' There is a slight difference between the accurate portrayal of Jesus being crucified and a sick, perverted movie about murderer that tortures and kills people in order to “teach” people something. No wonder …this world is in such hellish state if Christians are applauding the moral message of a torturing serial killer. If Jesus wasn’t actually crucified, it would have been equally sick to portray the “Passion” as it was, but guess what, he really was… And for the record, I honestly don’t see how anybody could actually believe for a second that 'Jigsaw doesn’t condone murder.' Are you blind? Did you not see the same thing? …This film is one I expected to be immensely popular with non-believers, but to see that fellow Christians are in love with it is… truly unbelievable.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 3
—Brett L., age 20
Negative—Highly disturbing. Personally, I can’t find much enjoyment in a film where I’ve got to peek through my fingers for ninety-percent of it. It was completely disgusting to watch, and even grosser to listen to (for those scenes where I had to completely cover my eyes.) I can understand, sort of, why people might find moral value in the sense that the main male character had to find forgiveness by facing the people who, in some way or another, contributed to the death of his son (or the lack of judgment in the court case condemning the accident.) There is some poignancy in this, as bizarre as it may sound. However, there must be better ways to showcase the horrible consequences of refusing to forgive someone. We, as Christians, do need to be reminded of how horrible our fate would be if God chose not to forgive us. But there must be better ways of getting the idea of forgiveness across than this.

The only good thing I can say about this movie is the special effects and technical value of the cinematography was quite good (I’m fishing for an appropriate word here.) The film was designed to make the viewer feel uneasy right from the opening scenes, and that effort paid off. I have never felt so uneasy watching a movie in my life (apart from the equally horrifying “Wolf Creek.”)
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 4
—Laura, age 21
Comments from young people
Neutral—This movie was extremely graphic and sadistic, but the story and script was very well written. The story focuses around a man filled with grief and thirsty for revenge against the drunk driver that killed his son. Now Jigsaw puts him through tests whether to forgive the people that had a part in his sons death or let them die horribly by Jigsaw’s traps and learn that revenge does nothing, and you must forgive. DO NOT take kids under the age of 16 to see it, they won’t be able to handle that kind of a movie when they’re not mature enough. Very well shot movie and very graphic.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 5
—Brendan, age 15
Positive—Great message. “Saw III” is the best Saw yet. A great comeback from the horrible “Saw II” (biblically and filmmaking wise). I rated this offensive, because of the graphic nature of the film. Also, a woman is shown naked and tied up, but in a non-sexual way. Moderate profanity (brief). “Saw III” is about being able to forgive those who have done small to terrible things to you. Jigsaw is at it again with his horrible yet morally good teachings. A man, who has lost his son in a car accident, is caught up in a series of Jigsaw’s “tests.” He must forgive all of the way through. At the same time, a woman must keep dying Jigsaw alive until the man can make it out and compete his “tests.” Also the woman has to deal with Jigsaw’s jealous and violent assistant. This movie has a great message about forgiveness. Jigsaw makes abundantly clear that he “does not like the word murder” and “despises murderers.” This movie is not for the squeamish or the like. This movie will be offensive to christians, but it is aimed for certain audiences. Jigsaw plays and sort of God-like character, but does not claim to be or hint, nor does anyone else, that he is God. The movie is great, offensive, but those who may need help with forgiveness should see it. No one under 15 should see it, as with the blood and nudity (non sexual). There is some brief mid-range profanity. But those who may need help with forgiveness should see it.
My Ratings: Offensive / 5
—Lance Higham, age 15
I’ll admit right from the start that I’ve never seen the “Saw” movies, but I’ve unfortunately heard graphic descriptions of what goes on in the movies by those who have seen them. From what I’ve heard, I, too, am appalled that Christians would be among those who flock to see such a sadistic gore-fest. We are supposed to be the salt and light of the world, but when we support movies like this, we lose our saltiness and light. By buying tickets to this movie or buying the DVD’s, we’re sending a message to Hollywood. Unfortunately, this time we’re telling them that we want more gore-fests and violence that is done purely for shock value (instead of having actual value like in the Passion of the Christ or Saving Private Ryan). It upsets me that people are entertained by watching these people suffer so greatly. When we hear of people who have cancer, do we laugh? When we hear of a baby that was aborted, do we ask for the graphic details? When we hear of people being horribly tortured somewhere in the world, do we hop on a plane and try to get front-row seats to see it? Why then do we support such sadistic garbage as the “Saw” movies?

I’ve read the defenses of the extreme violence and gore in these movies, but they aren’t sufficient. The comparisons to Passion of the Christ won’t do because there’s a difference between accurately portraying a historical event and having violence for the pure sake of seeing how much you can get away with or how creative you can be. The Saw movies simply see how much violence and sadism they can get away with. Some have said that Jigsaw uses the torture to teach moral lessons, but how can that be considered just when the person has almost no chance of staying alive or coming out of this without missing a limb or something? Is sadism really needed to teach a moral lesson? Or better yet, should sadism be used to teach a moral lesson?

When it all comes down to it, what is the message received from supporting this movie? Is it that we want more moral movies? No. Hollywood will see our votes not as saying we want more moral movies, but more senseless violence (and as much of it as they can get away with). Saw may have some morality to it, but it is far from a moral movie that we could support to send a proper message to Hollywood. If you choose to spend your time supporting certain movies, it would be better spent supporting ones of better moral quality (and ones of good film-making quality as well).

(Note: for those who like this movie, I’m not trying to come off as a “holier than thou” guy. I know that I’m not the ideal Christian, but the fact still stands that this film is too immoral to deserve our support. We should live a more Christ-centered life and support movies that have a more Christian (Biblical) morality to them to reflect that Christ-centered life. I apply this advice to all Christians including myself).
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 1
—Ross, age 17
Comments from non-viewers
I’ll admit I have yet to see this movie, but I have seen the first two “Saw” movies, so I’ll make this brief. Perhaps I’ll have more insight, if and when I see this latest sequel. But for now, I’m writing because I’m concerned about a few of the reviews here almost comparing Jigsaw to God. Jigsaw is nowhere close to God, and if one is not careful, a dangerous message could be learned from the Saw movies: that it’s “okay” to take over for God and punish people for their sins, taking the law into his or her own hands. “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord. Some have said that Jigsaw does not approve of murder—but then how can Jigsaw justify his own actions, which lead to the deaths of others? If Jigsaw was a real person and did not repent before he died, God would hold him responsible for all those deaths, even if he didn’t cause them directly. Jigsaw is a modern-day Pharisee, and we all know how well Jesus thought of his kind. Don’t delude yourselves: Jigsaw is just as much a murderer as those he condemns.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
—Sawnya, age 29
I have not seen “Saw III,” but I am appalled at how many Christians have seen the movie and have basically justified the violence and nudity. Some of the comments about the character named Jigsaw not condoning murder is absolutely ridiculous. If he has set up these situations which have a 50% chance of ending in death, than that’s as good as condoning it. And as for the nudity in the film, it doesn’t matter if it’s in a sexual way or not, you’re still filling your mind with those images. I used to watch horror movies and thought to myself that they were no big deal, because they were just movies. I was wrong. Scenes of grisly murders and nudity are evil. We’re opening ourselves up to demonic influence which is extremely dangerous. If we call ourselves Christians, then we need to start acting more like Christ.

None of us would ever invite people to our house to watch a murder or watch people have sex, and yet we sit in our living rooms night after night and watch “CSI” or “Desperate Housewives,” or some other show and act like there’s nothing wrong with that. Just because it’s on TV and not really happening, the consequences are just as bad. We need to set our minds on things above and not on things of the Earth. God condemns all these things. I’m not saying that I’m perfect, because I’m far from it. All I’m saying is that we’re supposed to be trying to live a more Christ-centered life, not a worldly one. We need to start by watching what we watch. And if there’s no conviction there, than I would ask yourself if you truly love the One who died for your sins and examine your heart. Jesus died so that we wouldn’t have to endure terrible things for eternity, so why would we want to watch them for entertainment?
—Jason, age 31