It feels like just yesterday I was getting tortured in the theater by Saw V.
Then again, for me, that was yesterday. In the 51 weeks since, I've been cryogenically frozen, having left instructions to my editor that I was not to be awakened until the Saw franchise had ceased production — and, ideally, all remaining copies of it had been carted into one huge pile and then stomped into splinters. The past year of columns haven't been written by me, but by a sophisticated home-built search engine/word processor I like to call the New York Times-a-Million. Patent pending.
When I awoke yesterday, I yawned, stretched, and rolled out of my cryotube expecting a world of flying cars and no more Saws. Imagine my disappointment when my '91 Tempo came to a violent crash landing in the Carmike lobby, hurling me bodily through the windshield and straight into a showing of Saw VI.
The original Jigsaw killer is dead, but girlfriend Betsy Russell and police officer Costas Mandylor remain to carry out the final act of his will. Their target: health insurance executive Peter Outerbridge, whose life is a legacy of stripping clients of their coverage just when they need it most.
Outerbridge is kidnapped and subjected to the same lethal game of Mousetrap that put Jigsaw on the map. But with two other police officers having been assigned to the case along with Mandylor, their investigation threatens to expose him before his work is done.
Saw V was pretty much a big ol' pile of unfollowable nonsense, so it's outright daring that Saw VI tries to weave everything that came before it into one big awful quilt. Along with its standard tale of inspiration through mutilation, writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton (the cinematic criminals behind a host of them-strangling-worthy horror movies, including Saw IV and V) revisit characters and plot points dating back to the franchise's beginning, reworking old material into new revelations.
That's a valiant effort, in the same way it's valiant to try to build a house using nothing but what your pets hack up onto the carpet. But I'm gonna be honest with you, I could hardly follow a damn bit of it, and I've watching (involuntarily, in the case of the last few) the series from the start. At this point, it's so lost in its own mythology it's probably found and befriended Amelia Earhart and D.B. Cooper.
At least they signed on a new director in Kevin Greutert. While he doesn't have much to do other than wrangle an unruly herd of flashbacks, he's competent enough to keep it moving forward in a way that can be comprehended by human minds, which can only be considered faint praise if you haven't been subjected to the moron-slurry that was Saw V.
And the health care angle is a welcome change from its played-out message of "You wasted your life, now I'm going to make you rip out your own fingernails until you learn to appreciate a sunset." It's nice to know that as we die of our cancers, autoimmune diseases and genetic heart complications that we can always go watch the fictional representative of our untreated maladies being forced to shotgun-blast his own employees.
Excellent times. For the purely hypothetical Saw fanatic, the way Saw IV reworks and ties up the loose ends of its saga may be the highwater mark since the original. For everyone else...well, good luck.