Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cable Review: "Saw VI"

I actually loved the first Saw movie. Director James Wan and co-writer Leigh Whannel actually managed to fool me with the film's twist ending, and I loved the dark, grim feel they managed to create (not to mention appearances by Danny Glover, Cary Elwes, Dina Meyer and "Lost" baddie Michael Emerson).

Of course, as the franchise has progressed, the quality has suffered (despite the almost-as-good Saw II) and the movies have degenerated into a "how can we kill them, next?" series of contrivances. I officially gave up on seeing the movies in a theater after Saw II, but have managed to catch the rest either on DVD or on cable. Such was the case while bored over the past weekend, when I caught Saw VI On Demand.

The long-dead killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), continues his plan to teach people the value of life through a series of deadly puzzles, thanks to FBI Agent Hoffman (former "Picket Fences" hottie Costas Mandylor), who has apparently been an accomplice since Saw III. We learn this through the franchise's by now well-known series of partial flash-backs, which also allow for more appearances by Jigsaw and his devoted acolyte, Amanda (Shawnee Smith) - think of Dr. Phibes and his beloved Vulnavia. This time, Jigsaw is targeting the Health Insurance Industry, trapping an insurance exec (Peter Outerbridge) in a building filled with kidnapped employees of his company; forcing said exec to choose which of them will live or die via a set of increasingly bizarre traps and puzzles. Aliens alum Mark Rolston returns as a police detective and Jill Tuck returns as Jigsaw's widow, following her late husband's final wishes.

Screenwriters Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton (winners of the final "Project Greenlight" contest for the amusing Feast)*, along with director Kevin Greutert, do nothing to add anything new to the franchise, other than coming up with sicker ways to kill people. Mandylor is sweaty and apprehensive throughout, knowing he is about to be caught. The film's final scenes, initially set-up to lead us to believe this will be the last of the increasingly ridiculous movies, ultimately let the audience down with a patently ridiculous ending that only leaves room for another outlandish and awful sequel.

I had hoped that Lionsgate Films would let this franchise die the death it deserves but, sadly, Saw VII has already started filming... sigh...

O Stars out of Four. Rated "R" for Violence, Gore and language.

*On a side note, Uncle P's own screenplay, Army of the Dead finished in the top 25% of entries in that last Project Greenlight contest.

More, anon.

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