Five Days Of Saw: Saw II.

Warning: This review contains some spoilers, mostly only if you haven't seen the first one yet.


What happens when you take a good premise and add a new director/writer to its sequel? In my opinion, you get one of the weakest installments in the series. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is still on the loose, though not due to a lack of trying from Detective Kerry (Dina Meyer), Detective Rigg (Lyriq Bent), or Detective Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg). This time, however, Jigsaw’s newest victim brings Detective Matthews to the forefront, teasing clues in front of his face until he decides to come and find him. And when he finally does, Jigsaw reveals not everything is as easy as just taking him in. In fact, in another room are some security monitors that show a select group of people locked inside a dilapidated old house including previous victim/survivor Amanda (Shawnee Smith) and Detective Matthews’ son, Daniel (Erik Knudsen). The people in the house have three hours until the front doors open; unfortunately, they only have two hours to live with a deadly neuro-toxin coursing through their bodies, though the antidotes are spread throughout the house (within various traps). But if Detective Eric Matthews wants to see his son again, all Jigsaw wants him to do is sit and have a little chat. It’s too bad the detective has a bit of an anger issue and finds that a bit harder than anticipated.

As I said, I feel that Saw II is one of the weakest installments in the series thus far. And when most people think of the Saw films, their minds always seem to think more along the lines of this movie than the first. The reason for that is because this movie deals more with the traps and gore than it does with plot and character. Each character in the house, with the exception of Amanda and to an extent Daniel, is a very flat character with no real given story. Detective Matthews is at least somewhat complex, or else he would be had he not continually resorted to violence over and over again and had no real character growth (though, technically, that’s the entire point, so I can’t really fuss on that). I think the only reason the movie is still enjoyable is because Leigh Whannell stuck around as a co-writer and executive producer/advisor (I believe former director James Wan stuck around as an executive producer, as well).

And even though this movie is far more disturbing/bloody than the previous, its traps are still only few and far between. All the traps shown are really just the opening Venus flytrap, the gun, the furnace, the needle pit, and the hand trap (and in essence, the house itself and its inhabitance could also be considered traps). The only one to show any blood are the first two and the last one (and the coughing caused by the toxin, but that’s nothing), and even those are relatively mild due to zippy editing. Though there is a bit of weaponry used, too, but still…

And speaking of editing, this movie still does it very well, even with a new director. In fact, this new director makes use of even more interesting camera transitions and whatnot, where an actor can start on one set and end up on another without the camera cutting. I know he tries to do it at least a couple times in each movie, and I think that’s really cool. However, on the brief subject of music, I think the Saw theme wasn’t used to its advantage here and was used in the wrong spot of the film.

And then there are the twists. There are three of them in this movie, and I remember figuring out two of the three in theater. The one that I thought was the cleverest (because it’s the one I didn’t figure out) was the one involving Daniel, but I won’t go into specifics, just in case.

I know I’m speaking quite negatively about this one, but I don’t hate it. The acting is good, especially with Tobin Bell. He acts circles around everybody else in the entire series, and I think the whole thing would fail epically without him. I just think that the movie should have focused more on character and plot, like they did in the first film, instead of focusing on the traps and gore. Fortunately, there was a Saw III to fix this up… but until then, I was stuck with Saw II.

I Am McLovin!

Other reviews:
Here is a review by a fellow blogger who shares my sentiments (and more) on this film. Be cautioned, though... his review is a lot more spoilerific than mine, as it's along the lines of a comedic summary: Invasion of the B Movies: Saw II.

The following segments involve spoilers:

Questions Raised Thus Far:

- What's with all the pig stuff (Saw and Saw II)?

- Who the heck was the guy in the drill-to-the-neck trap and what did he do (Saw)?

- What the heck ever happened to Dr. Gordon's wife and daughter (Saw)?

- What the heck ever happened to Dr. Gordon (Saw)?

- As such, now that we know he turns survivors into apprentices, will he do the same with Dr. Gordon (after all, the -surgeon- in the video at the beginning was -limping-) (Saw II)?

- What the heck happens to Detective Matthews now (Saw II)?

- What the heck happened to Danny Matthews (Saw II)?

- How is Obi connected to Jigsaw, as he helped him gather all the people into the house (Saw II)?

Questions Answered Thus Far:
- Does Jigsaw just let Amanda go live her life now that she survived?
(He turns her into his apprentice)
- Does Adam just die of starvation, dehydration, and/or blood loss?
(We know he dies, but are unsure how).

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