- Rated R
- Buy the DVD
All photos © Lionsgate
Reviewed by David Medsker
he sixth installment in what has up to now been a wildly successful franchise – while this one still turned a healthy profit, it made half as much as the other “Saw” movies, due in large part to the ass kicking it received from “Paranormal Activity” – “Saw VI” has a ripped-from-the-headlines timeliness to it that you would expect to see from one of the “Law & Order” series. They purport that this was Jigsaw’s endgame when the story began in 2004, doing their usual shoehorn retrofitting to make it work. And while the story technically works, there is absolutely no way that this was what Jigsaw had in mind when he originally laid down on that cold bathroom floor and pretended to be dead.
The movie begins with the trademark ‘mutilate yourself or die’ trap, where two predatory lenders are pitted against each other in a ‘pound of flesh’ contest, with the loser getting his skull crushed. From there, Lieutenant Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), who has assumed the role of Jigsaw since the death of original Jigsaw John Kramer (Tobin Bell), receives instructions from John’s widow Jill (Betsy Russell) to put one last game in motion involving health insurance executive William Easton (Peter Outerbridge), who used a technicality to terminate John’s health coverage years earlier. William is forced to play a series of games that will require him to choose which of his coworkers live or die. But Hoffman has troubles of his own, as the Feds are zeroing in on inconsistencies between the Jigsaw murders and the trap that Hoffman set up to resemble a Jigsaw trap in order to kill his sister’s murderer.
The opening scene is equal parts grotesque and hilarious – try not to laugh when one grabs the butcher knife and starts a-choppin’ – but these characters have nothing to do with the rest of the story. As I said earlier, it’s more “Law & Order: Torture Porn Unit” than “Saw.” Even the scene involving the survivor later on is awkward, because Hoffman says something horribly inappropriate to the victim that all but fingers him as Jigsaw. Also, how was Hoffman able to abduct so many people in such a short period of time? Including the lenders, there are 15 (!) people involved in various games. If William was the last one abducted, wouldn’t he have noticed that his entire staff had mysteriously not come in to work? And wouldn’t the police have noticed that Hoffman was spending a lot of time off the radar?
Here is the one question that kept coming back, though: if the police know that John Kramer was the Jigsaw killer, why on earth haven’t they gotten search warrants to raid every piece of property in his name and confiscate everything that remotely resembled evidence? Even with Hoffman on the inside, there are things beyond his control. This game, by all accounts, should never have happened. The new additions to the cast did not give very convincing performances, either. When you’re missing Donnie Wahlberg, things have officially gone off the rails.
Lionsgate is going to keep making these movies as long as they make money, but is there anything left to be done? The main setup of “Saw VI” is a near-carbon copy of “Saw III,” the most reprehensible of all the “Saw” movies, and the fact that they’re getting topical suggests that they’ve run out of ideas. Time to let Jigsaw rest in peace.
Unrated Edition DVD Review:
In tradition with past “Saw” DVD releases, there are multiple audio commentaries, one from the producers and one from the writers and director. There is a featurette on the movie’s traps, one on Tobin Bell’s dedication to the Jigsaw character, one on the “Saw” haunted house at Universal Studios (which admittedly looks really cool), and four music videos from the movie’s soundtrack. They also include a DVD of the original “Saw,” though it’s safe to assume that anyone buying “Saw VI” already has “Saw,” yes? Looks like Lionsgate was doing a little warehouse cleaning.