Here’s a tip for getting the most out of your Saw: The Final Chapter experience if you’re already a fan of the series: Watch it from the start of the movie right till the point where Chester Bennington flies through a car windshield. (For bonus points, if you’re also a Linkin Park fan watching it with a group of other Linkin Park fans, see how many puns you can make from their lyrics during Chester’s entire scene) Now fast forward your disc/file until the end of the film where you’ll see Costas Mandylor (Detective Hoffman) walking out to a carpark and getting ambushed. Continue watching till the credits roll.
Here’s a tip for getting the most out of your Saw: The Final Chapter experience if you’re not a fan of the series: Don’t bother.
It feels like the seventh (and final) instalment of the Saw series has been put there for the sole purpose of its climactic revelation. The rest of the film features Hoffman, like he was in Part 6, trudging along hopelessly, going through motions he obviously doesn’t care about under the final instructions of Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) while recklessly trying to cut all loose ends that can incriminate him. Perhaps reflective of this, there is a clear lack of imagination in the traps planned for Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery), a self-help guru and the main victim of this movie. Set up posthumously by Jigsaw, his character was a nice touch for the series – an alleged Jigsaw survivor profiting from his experience. His traps, however, were like watching Saw III and Saw VI all over again – they were, even for a fan like myself, tiring to sit through and worse – predictable, which is the complete opposite of what the first film was all about.
If that didn’t make me wonder whether director Kevin Greutert (who took over the helm in Saw VI after editing the first five) and writers Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan (who took over in Saw IV) ever knew what creators Leigh Wannell and James Wan and earlier director Darren Lynn Bousman were trying to do, the deal sure got sealed in the way they weaved the fate of Jigsaw’s ex-wife Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell). Her character began as the one glimmer of hope for Jigsaw – the one piece of his soul (and he said it in Saw V, too – “You are my heart”) that was good; untouchable. And in the same way that the Saw series began as something different, it- and she- ended in B-grade. And not even deliberately B-grade, which would’ve been a compliment.
It is ironic that in a film that was so much set up by the Jigsaw character and his death, the absence of his essence was felt the most out of all the films in the series. The only thrill about it is something that fans already knew: Cary Elwes is back. But he never got enough screentime and his character had too little an involvement given the amount of whispered hype about it.
If you want to end the Saw series on a high, stop at Part 6. Melton and Dunstan are good writers and Greutert clearly has a passion for this franchise; I’ll give them that much, but they dropped the ball in this one. Don’t be lured by the return of Mr Elwes – trust me, whatever you read about it is probably everything that they actually showed about him.
Director: Kevin Greutert
Producers: Mark Burg, Oren Koules & Greg Hoffman
Screenwriters: Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan
Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Sean Patrick Flanery, Cary Elwes