See No Evil
Saw 3D claims to be the last of the series, and ready or not, I'm definitely done with it. Four years ago, I would've been dying for another of Jigsaw's twisted tales, but the sequels since then have made it hard to excuse the franchise's staying power. I'm probably not the only one sick of the annual grind, and the makers of Saw 3D show the most cavalier attitude toward doing in characters that we've seen yet. It takes the Etch-a-Sketch approach to tying up loose ends, so if you were hoping for a worthy finale to one of modern horror's most successful legacies, boy are you in for a heartless and banal awakening.
Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell) has had enough. She barely put up with ex-husband John (Tobin Bell) being the notorious Jigsaw, but with Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) bent on continuing the game, it's Jill's duty to slam shut this book of blood herself. Unfortunately, Hoffman survived his own trap from the end of Saw VI, and with a fresh scar on his mug, he's after Jill and playing for keeps. In the meantime, former Jigsaw victim Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery) has made a fortune helping others like him come to terms with life after their horrible experiences. But Bobby has a secret that's gotten him into big trouble, as he's soon kidnapped and forced to endure a whole gauntlet of torturous obstacles that ensure Jigsaw's final hours be the goriest of all.
It's time for a series to call it quits when the main draw involves not having to watch it anymore. Of course, this is all hypothetical -- they said the same thing about The Final Destination, but the next one is in production, so the almighty dollar will ultimately dictate how many more Saws we'll have to slog through. Still, if Saw 3D hadn't been in such a hurry to wrap things up and emphasized Jigsaw's deranged sense of morality (you know, the thing that was so interesting that we got a gazillion Saw movies because of it), then maybe it could have brought the series full circle. But nope, Saw 3D has fully bought into the spectacle viewers have come to expect from the franchise and left whatever was thought-provoking about it in the dust. It's an empty ordeal without the self-awareness that made The Final Destination fun to watch when it wasn't even trying to be funny.
I found Saw 3D less a celebration of everything Saw than a wake it doesn't much feel like throwing. There's no love in these frames, no proper tributes paid nor loose story threads tied together in a halfway respectable fashion. It's all guts and no glory, although if anything, the filmmakers did save their most grotesque traps for last. Heads are crushed, jaws are ripped off, and flesh is peeled before bloodthirsty viewers who get the added touch of having all this grue fly at them in the third dimension. But strangely, the amped-up violence actually makes it feel less like a legit Saw sequel and more like a ripoff, a la Captivity. The fact that Tobin Bell is barely in this doesn't help, and while we finally see what happened to Cary Elwes' character from the first film, this one deals with him in the exact, unimaginative, and downright cheap way I feared they would.
Depending on how you've regarded these movies to date, Saw 3D will play either to your dismay or to your delight. Some will be bummed to see this horror war horse take its bows (maybe), while this supposedly last chapter will have been a long time coming for others. However, even if the box office gods decree that Jigsaw live to slice and dice another day, Saw 3D is a bust on its own, a film that begins on a fairly sturdy note but gives up on that well before its blades whir to a stop.
MY RATING: ** (out of ****)
(Released by Lionsgate and rated "R" for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, and language.)