by Andrew James
Jigsaw is up to his old tricks again. Yes, miraculously he's still alive and able to set up elaborate tricks and devices to help troubled souls realize their wrong-doings and repent and learn from them in the most horrific yet ingenious ways. We arrive right where we left off from part 2 and learn the whereabouts and fates of Det. Matthews (D. Wahlberg) and Det. Kerry (Dina Meyer). Jigsaw, now on his deathbed, has one last test subject: an obsessed man who seeks revenge for the death of his son at the hands of a drunk driver. The man is tested through a series of scenarios to learn that vengeance will only make matters worse. As a side story, Jigsaw and his apprentice, Amanda (from Saws 1 and 2) "employ" the help of the best doctor in the city to keep him alive long enough to carry-out this final test. The catch is, if he dies, the doctor dies too (with a rather ingenious contraption that throughout the entire film I was hoping would be set off). By the end, ALL of our characters will each learn a lesson about vengeance and betrayal.
The movie retraces some of our steps from the first film to remind us why and how we got to where we are. It explores basically the same ideas; that is, letting go of our "sins" and cleansing them away for the ultimate reward: a happier and more enriched life. I really liked this idea of why vengeance is a bad thing. Surprisingly, it was actually able to totally convince me of this fact by the end and I tip my hat to the writer for that amazing feat. Also, the door on the franchise is not completely slammed shut as one minute detail in the story keeps the faintest bit of light shining for those hoping for a Saw IV (that would not be me, by the way).
If gore is your thing, Saw III surpasses the first two by a magnitude of ten. One of the most brutal and inconceivable scenarios occurs within the first ten minutes alone; followed immediately by another, then another. Other gross-out devices, even more so than blood, are also given their fair amount of screen time (I won't let on to what this is, but trust me, it's nasty and may have you squirming). If this is what you come to the theater looking for, you'll have found it. It's got more blood splatter than any film I can remember in a long time. Fangoria Magazine, no doubt, is thrilled.
The problem with the movie is several fold. First of all, the obvious: the multiple plot holes. They're ridiculous and obvious and I'm sure the film makers can see them too, so I'm sure they're hoping you can just go with it. If you're able to suspend your disbelief for quite some time and from a VERY long string, you'll be alright.
Second, it's not really all that scary. It's just gross. The first film really had a sense of unknowing and general creepiness. This film just employs various "artsy" attempts at giving a forboding feel which are just... well, stupid; some sound effects that are just plain over-the-top cheesy, for one thing. Lights that come on and make some of the coolest, electrifying sounds I would love to have emplyed in my apartment. Or the ridiculous sucking sounds of flesh removed from a body. It sounds neat, but I thought it was over compensating for a lack of scariness. Couple this with the hurried, frenzied camera movements and editing techniques and it just feels more crazy and chaotic than scary. But maybe I'm over analyzing things here.
The acting... oh sweet weeping Jesus, save us from the acting. Again, just like in the first two films, it's difficult not to roll your eyes and make groaning sounds at some of the atrociousness of these actors; especially Bahar Soomekh (the aforementioned doctor). Granted the dialogue they're given isn't exactly Shakespearean, but c'mon, this is a popular franchise that is going to make a boatload of money. Can't we find anyone better for some of the key roles? I guess not.
Lastly, and this is not a spoiler, I hate movies that spell out what has just happened with a series of clips from throughout the rest of the film. The surprise ending is not all that difficult to understand once it's unveiled; so when it is spoon fed to us, step by step, my intelligence just feels insulted. I hate that.
So it is what it is. Far better than the sophmore effort (anything would be of course), Saw III will deliver in droves with the gross out factor. It had me with the basic idea behind the story, though the track getting there was fraught with bumps and leaps in logic. Without any deviation from style, tone, editing structure or cinematography from the last two films, this one is basically just more of the same. Fun and entertaining for the Halloween season, but ultimately hollow and lifeless, Saw III will deliver a lot of bang for your buck, but not much sense for your cents.
IMDb.com - full cast and crew
FLIXSTER PROFILE for Saw III