Reviewed by: Brett Willis
Leigh Whannell … Adam Faulkner-Stanheight
Cary Elwes … Dr. Lawrence Gordon
Danny Glover … Detective David Tapp
Monica Potter … Alison Gordon
Ken Leung … Detective Steven Sing
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Saw Productions Inc.
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|Distributor||Lions Gate Films|
“Every piece has a puzzle.”
This is easily the most disgusting film I’ve seen in a year or two. It’s just as mindless as Jeepers Creepers (although there’s no supernatural element), and it has a similarly unsatisfying bad-guy-wins ending. That’s not a major plot giveaway, since the identity of the “good guys” and “bad guys,” along with most everything else, is kept in doubt until the end. But it’s a warning for those who are willing to endure graphic violence in order to see justice done. In this film, justice DOESN’T get done.
Two men, Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) and Adam (Leigh Whannell), awaken in a decrepit underground bathroom, chained by their ankles to pipes on opposite sides of the room. A serial killer known as Jigsaw has placed them there as a test. Through tape recordings, Jigsaw tells Dr. Gordon that he must kill Adam by six P.M. or else BOTH men will die, as will Dr, Gordon’s wife and daughter. Jigsaw also communicates through clues left in the room and a one-way cell phone. Both men have hacksaws available, but they’re not strong or sharp enough to cut through metal. Only strong enough to cut through limbs.
As the time ticks away, both men try to remember how they were captured, and to guess what their relationship is to Jigsaw. We see, in flashback, several of Jigsaw’s other crime setups. In one, a near-naked man is forced to crawl through a tangle of ribbon wire as the only alternative to certain death. In another, a woman with an explosive device locked on her head is told that the key for the device is in the stomach of the dead man on the floor next to her. She raises the knife… and the man awakens.
Rather than try to attack each other, Dr. Gordon and Adam generally work together. But nothing in this film is quite as it seems. Neither man is telling the absolute truth.
Sexual content is minimal. There’s no female nudity, and the male nudity is nothing you wouldn’t see at the beach (except for the gore). Dr. Gordon is seen in a flashback, meeting a woman at a seedy hotel for the purpose of sex; but before anything happens, he changes his mind. Situations where women and girls are tied up by male captors always carry the imagery of and potential for sexual abuse; but in this case, no such abuse occurs or is even hinted at. The bad guys seemingly do what they do without regard to gender.
There are many curses, and several occurrences of f* and other graphic language.
But the mainstay of the film is extreme violence. And horror, and suspense. After one “bad guy” was revealed, I suspected that there was another bad guy behind that one. I made several guesses, and all of them were wrong.
The main storyline trudges on graphically and relentlessly, with no comic relief. While guessing at the upcoming plot twists is probably the only effective diversion, this isn’t “Murder She Wrote” or a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater. It’s a carnival ride into a world where the killer always gets the breaks, even in Act Three.
My take: This story is utterly unbelievable, even by Hollywood standards. And utterly pointless as well. I don’t recommend this film to anyone.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Minor
Saw II (2005)
Saw III (2006)
Saw IV (2007)
Saw V (2008)
Saw VI (2009)
Saw 3D: The Traps Come Alive (2010)
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.