John Kramer, star and saving grace of the Saw franchise had long gone, beaten up and violated by an endless stream of tiresome sequels rather than killed off by cancer as it’s claimed in Saw III.
However, he still manages to be brought back to life in Jigsaw. A movie that kicks off with five people held captive in a barn, each with a metal noose around their neck. If you’re familiar with this 14-year-long franchise, you’d expect this to be the by-now famous first trap that’s shown before the movie title appears on screen.
You’d be wrong, though, since these five people will stick with the viewer throughout the entire runtime of Jigsaw; meanwhile, detectives Halloran and Hunt begin investigating the discovery of bodies that appear to belong to two of the people Jigsaw is ‘playing a game’ with.
Despite being directed by the talent of Michael and Peter Spierig, the movie follows the Saw formula rather closely, with no unexpected peaks: the police are investigating and running against time to save a few kidnapped people, Kramer’s voice is giving instructions to the victims, they have to solve puzzles (which usually involve sacrificing a limb) in order to survive, there is a big twist at the end.
Do we have all of this in Jigsaw? You bet! Meaning: if you like the previous instalments of the Saw franchise, you’ll likely enjoy Jigsaw too. If you think this movie is worse than the other ones, that would probably mean you’ve grown up and are over the cheap, mainstream-suitable torture porn typical of the Saw flicks.
However, Jigsaw brings something refreshing to the franchise: self-awareness and comic relief. In fact, the movie is rather enjoyable if you sit down and switch your brain off for 80 minutes. Some jokes that are thrown in the mix did work, because they give a voice to viewers’ awareness about certain absurdities and inconsistencies that had been a consistent feature from Saw II to Saw 3D.
Yet, there are two pivotal, crowd-pleasing moments that work in Jigsaw more than in other entrances of the franchise.
For example, when Tobin Bell appears on screen, his presence is justified by the fact that the movie plays with its timeline and ‘tricks’ the audience respecting it at the same time, as opposed to taking the piss.
Bell as John Kramer is always a delight to look at. His charisma shines in this film again and seeing him setting up a trap must be fulfilling for the die-hard fans of the Saw movies.
The final twist, which had become truly stupid and disappointing throughout the years, is also rather impactful in Jigsaw, thanks to the good performance by Matt Passmore (Dexter). If we ever get another sequel – which is unlikely, considering how little profit the movie made at the box-office – he’ll make for a believable villain, a worthy replacement for Tobin Bell, who seems to be done with the franchise.
Although I will never watch Jigsaw again, this flick isn’t the worst out of the eight instalments and I believe it could be enjoyed by the fans of the Saw movies. If you expect to be blown away by it, though, do yourself a favour and watch another film instead. Cheers!