It feels like just yesterday I was getting tortured in the theater bySaw V.
Then again, for me, that was yesterday. In the 51 weeks since, I'vebeen cryogenically frozen, having left instructions to my editor thatI was not to be awakened until the Saw franchise had ceasedproduction — and, ideally, all remaining copies of it had been cartedinto one huge pile and then stomped into splinters. The past year ofcolumns haven't been written by me, but by a sophisticated home-builtsearch engine/word processor I like to call the New YorkTimes-a-Million. Patent pending.
When I awoke yesterday, I yawned, stretched, and rolled out of mycryotube expecting a world of flying cars and no more Saws.Imagine my disappointment when my '91 Tempo came to a violent crashlanding in the Carmike lobby, hurling me bodily through the windshieldand straight into a showing of Saw VI.
The original Jigsaw killer is dead, but girlfriend Betsy Russell andpolice officer Costas Mandylor remain to carry out the final act ofhis will. Their target: health insurance executive Peter Outerbridge,whose life is a legacy of stripping clients of their coverage justwhen they need it most.
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Outerbridge is kidnapped and subjected to the same lethal game ofMousetrap that put Jigsaw on the map. But with two other police officers havingbeen assigned to the case along with Mandylor, their investigationthreatens 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 everythingthat came before it into one big awful quilt. Along with its standardtale of inspiration through mutilation, writers Marcus Dunstan andPatrick Melton (the cinematic criminals behind a host ofthem-strangling-worthy horror movies, including Saw IV andV) revisit characters and plot points dating back to thefranchise's beginning, reworking old material into new revelations.
That's a valiant effort, in the same way it's valiant to try to builda house using nothing but what your pets hack up onto the carpet. ButI'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) theseries from the start. At this point, it's so lost in its ownmythology it's probably found and befriended Amelia Earhart and D.B.Cooper.
At least they signed on a new director in Kevin Greutert. While hedoesn't have much to do other than wrangle an unruly herd offlashbacks, he's competent enough to keep it moving forward in a waythat can be comprehended by human minds, which can only be consideredfaint praise if you haven't been subjected to the moron-slurry thatwas Saw V.
And the health care angle is a welcome change from its played-outmessage of "You wasted your life, now I'm going to make you rip outyour own fingernails until you learn to appreciate a sunset." It'snice to know that as we die of our cancers, autoimmune diseases andgenetic heart complications that we can always go watch the fictionalrepresentative of our untreated maladies being forced to shotgun-blasthis own employees.
Excellent times. For the purely hypothetical Saw fanatic, theway Saw IV reworks and ties up the loose ends of its saga maybe the highwater mark since the original. For everyone else...well,good luck.