Film Review: The jig is finally up on the eighth "Saw" instalment, "Jigsaw"
Despite the new title, Jigsaw is very much the same movie you have seen 7 times before, either in Saw, Saw II, etc etc.
While Jigsaw did sort of try to refresh itself, it was done terribly. Yes, all the characters here are new and it is set 10 years later, but every problem that plagued the original series has remained firmly in place: The writing is still lazy, the timeline is still confusing and impenetrable to newcomers, the traps are still just as boring and uninspired as the characters, and once again the only redeeming feature is Tobin Bell as the serial killer John Kramer/Jigsaw.
Bell is still perfect in this role. Everything about the character of John Kramer is amplified by his performance, and aside from the traps, he really is the only draw. To give some credit, the makers do seem to know that Bell is the main attraction (why else would they make him the centrepiece of their advertisement?), but they clearly couldn't figure out a way to feature him in an interesting way. He's forced into the plot by featuring in flashbacks, again, despite the obvious fact that he is clearly not getting any younger.
Just in case you were wondering, the plot is still a mess despite some efforts to wipe the slate clean. But sure, the plot isn’t a focus for fans of the series -- which is obvious due to its thoroughly botched nature. The draw is the game, the deadly traps.
I will go into a brief analysis of the traps themselves, but suffice it to say that they all fall extremely flat. Every trap fell into one of two categories:
The trap was far too familiar to be scary. Being able to see the twists and turns from a mile off really removes any sort of tension that the series had.
There are some new traps, but they're terribly uninteresting. Be it due to punches pulled, or being too ridiculous and large in scale to have any real impact, these traps are not only weightless, they take you out of the movie simply by being remarkably un-engaging.
This means that the reason why people go see Saw movies (to the best of my knowledge) really has been forgotten here. It’s not about bigger means better; it can be bigger, but it needs to be plausible if not realistic. Moreover, it needs to let the audience connect with the characters, or at least care something for their fates. One way to achieve this would be to have characters who act a bit more like actual human beings, not just irredeemable jerks. Another way to go might be to downsize the scale of the violence; go back to the concept of a guy having to saw off his foot. Simplicity should be considered again for the Saw series, because these outlandish traps and even more outlandish plots aren't cutting it.
Here is the lowdown: Jigsaw was flat and boring. The visuals were dull and grey, the main characters were boring and/or unrealistic, and the plot was an incomprehensible mess. The two biggest draws (Tobin Bell, the traps) have been diluted in this half-assed attempt to re-energise the series. Put simply, this Jigsaw can't be put back together.
Watch this if you are a fan and have a sense of obligation to the series, I guess. But if you wanted an entry point into the series or literally anything entertaining, this isn’t it.