Being that Lionsgate is already on their fifth SAW film in only five years, you come to know what to expect from the franchise. There are a few expectations that come when going into the theater – there is a good chance you’ll be confused, there will be loads of hyper-editing and most importantly, there will be blood. But what’s really behind the SAW franchise is that not only are we as viewers allowed to enjoy the film with a high level of suspension of disbelief, but we are also expecting to be entertained, no matter how confused we get. Hypothetically, all the filmmakers have to do is play by the rules (they created), and all will be good. It’s too bad nobody can seem to listen to Jigsaw’s advice.
First and foremost, I think it’s important to make it clear that I am a fan of the franchise and have a special place in my heart for the first four films. I was looking forward to SAW V and went in with the same expectations I had for the past three sequels. While the film has some good “moments”, the overall experience was numbing.
In SAW V, Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) suspects that Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) is Jigsaw’s accomplice after the duo are the only ones to survive Jigsaw’s elaborate game from SAW III and SAW IV. He hunts down Hoffman, while in fact he’s a pawn in yet another (elaborate?) game.
There are a laundry list of problems that begin with the film’s focus on Hoffman and Strahm. Besides the fact that the duo look too much alike, it doesn’t help that the acting is atrocious. Not only is Patterson laughably bad, but he also talks to himself the entire movie. The slow points in the film are literally filled with useless exposition of Agent Strahm thinking out loud. For the duration of the film we watch Hoffman set traps, while Strahm explores old crime scenes and reflects on what “might” have happened. This is where the major problem reveals itself….
…. SAW V is not at all about Jigsaw (Tobin Bell). Yeah, I know he’s dead, but the SAW franchise is synonymous with Jigsaw. To remove him from the franchise and expect fans to follow around Hoffman and Strahm is a goddamnn insult. I was even sold with having Amanda (Shawnee Smith) as the successor and was willing to watch her take the torch (being that she was IN the first SAW), only she was harshly dissolved from the last two films. In a hilarious observation, one spectator compared SAW V to FRIDAY THE 13TH Part V: A NEW BEGINNING – you know, the one where Jason really isn’t the killer?
Had the film been entertaining, maybe our minds wouldn’t have wondered leaving us actually thinking about the plot. SAW V was boring, dull and tedious to watch. It was so dull that I was laughing when the “big reveal” graced the screen. We get various shots from previous scenes in the film connecting all of the dots. I couldn’t help but giggle and think, “I was sitting right here, why did I need a recap of what just happened?” It was like watching the intro to a show after a commercial break…
Furthermore, this is the first SAW film that I figured out the twist with the traps immediately. Leaving the film with zero suspense. The group involved in the trap really has no bearing on anything other than to provide the means for another movie, which made it just all meaningless. Basically the entire movie followed a group of people going through a series of (useless) traps while the rest was filled with wink-winks and nudge-nudges. SAW V attempts to make the audience feel smart for sticking along for so long, only when it’s all said and done you’ll feel like a fool for sitting through this disappointment. Even the big set up for the sixth film had me cracking up. Via a video will, Jigsaw leaves his wife Jill (Besty Russell) a big box. She looks inside, smiles and we never do find out what’s inside. I am willing to make a cash bet that not only is Jill being set up to be the killer in SAW VI, but also that the box is filled with tapes. That’s how predictable the franchise has become (I guess we’ll find out next October).
As for the directing by David Hackl, there are some beautifully orcastrated shots, such as the “Strahm in a box” scene that you can check out over at BDTV. He also attempts to bring more stagnant shots to the film, instead of those hyper close-ups, which actually removes us from the experience. It also didn’t help that the editing of the finished product is uneven. The opening sequence is flash-cut to sh*t and is nearly disorientating, while the rest of the film is cut more like SAW II than anything else.
Overall, SAW V looked like a made-for-TV movie that might air on the Sci-Fi Channel. It was dull, boring and even looked cheap. There’s literally someone holding or looking through a file in every single scene (outside of the traps) as if it’s they’re there just to add something to the empty space.
The SAW movies have officially gone stale, and while it should have happened way before the fifth film, it’s still quite impressive they got this far. The franchise will live on, but at what cost? It’s time to either take a break or step back and maybe move away from this overly complex situation and start anew. The only cast I ever want to see on screen again is Jigsaw, Amanda or maybe even Riggs – beyond that, it’s not really SAW, is it?