I’ve never really considered myself as a fan of Saw series or the subgenre it hauled, “torture porn” Contradictorily, I’ve always managed to saw all of its unrated version of the franchise. Given that the mood is right, though.
Now, it is a fairly fair predicament that whenever a movie-goer went to a film called “Saw” with or without a Roman number as its suffix, she would be fully aware what she’d expect the most from that film. Gore, Blood, and brooding in magnificent steam-punk machinery designed to inflict as much pain as possible without killing its victim straight-away.
I actually liked the first Saw. There’s some nuance of substance behind all those delicate traps, bloods and all and the film’s final twist is even worked for me. At the very least, I was mildly curious of Saw II at the time. But after three films, 53,291 characters, and 1,209 traps later, I was lost. Utterly lost. I mean, I could remember the first Saw film, vaguely remember Saw II, but totally confused about which is which in third and fourth Saw film and therefore in my point of view, I degraded Saw into a serie that was just that, a “torture porn”, not much of a substance – I’m even not sure if it is there anymore – and exists merely to satisfy my curiosity on Blood, Gore, and Pain. Thus, with that frame of mind I went into “Saw V”
In a saw-verse timeline, “Saw V” begins immediately after Saw IV, where (I think) Jigsaw was found dead on a surgeon table. The film has clearly two plot lines, each intermingled in its timeframe and narration. Plot “A” – Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) tracking down the loose-ends of the now-dead Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), and Plot “B” – The game a la Jigsaw where a bunch of unimportant people involved in “lessons” about something or another. Well, you know, typical to the Saw series. Now, if you’ve seen the last film you know something that Strahm doesn’t which is that another survivor from Saw IV, an established hero, Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) is a villain, and apparently, another Jigsaw’s accomplice. But Strahm doesn’t know this. Therefore, during the film, Strahm spent most of his screen-time flipping through files, and muttering – talking – to himself as an understanding dawned upon him, about say, “You two has been working together!” and then, a flashback scene showing that these two are indeed working together. It happens at least three times with similar procedure (flipping, muttering, flashback). Mark Hoffman however, spent mostly in his car seat in parking lot. I’ve lost interest to him since the last film so it doesn’t really matter about what’s he doing, anyway. The plot “B”, well, that’s just an obligatory part from the film-makers. Otherwise, it just won’t do to call it “Saw V”
Comparing against the previous two films, even if the gore level was considerably lacking, “Saw V” has a distinction that at the very least, it’s make sense. Like I said, I was oblivious to who’s who, and why’s why from the third and fourth film. “Saw V” with its rather abundance amount of no-cloak-and-dagger flashback scenes with Jigsaw serves more like a conclusion chapter, an explanation footnote against the previous two films or perhaps even against the entire series. Although of course, given the bad writing (Scott Patterson, talking to himself, “I know it, you sonofabich”, flashback, switch to plot “B”, shoot the main villain waiting in his car in the parking lot, rinse, repeat, and final scene where its “twist” should be visible from miles away), it is not nearly enough even if I had lowered my standard when I went into this film.
My rating: ** / **** With this film, the “Saw” legacy was “cleaned” once again and could therefore be restarted anew for its sixth installment without tampering much with the current chronology. The only question is wether Jigsaw’s apprentice could live up to the task of replacing Jigsaw or we’d still see Tobin Bell in the future. I’d wager for the latter.