I’m going to toss up a spoiler alert, just in case you’ve kept away from the news surrounding this movie. That said, read on!
As I walked out of the theater after seeing Saw 3D, the seventh and supposedly final chapter of the Saw franchise, I felt a little empty inside. After Saw VI’s lackluster performance at the box office, the Powers That Be decided that Saw 3D would be the final installment, despite plans for an eighth film. The plot of Saw VIII was incorporated into Saw 3D, leading to a movie that felt cramped, rushed, and slapped together.
Picking up where VI left off, Saw 3D follows Agent Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), the original Jigsaw’s successor, as he tries to get his hands on Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell), Jigsaw’s wife and Hoffman’s nemesis. Meanwhile, an internal affairs agent (Chad Donella) does his best to track Hoffman down and a Jigsaw-centric self-help guru (Sean Patrick Flanery) gets put through a trap-filled gauntlet to save his family and friends.
As far as storytelling goes, everything that didn’t involve Hoffman, Tuck, and the Jigsaw legacy felt tacked on. I was more or less entertained but there was no emotional attachment to Donella or Flanery’s characters, much less the people Flanery was trying to rescue? Not a bit. I just felt that they were trying to fill in the other sixty minutes that didn’t concern the main plot.
The traps themselves, the franchise’s mainstay attractions, were a little disappointing for the final chapter. Several, including the public trap featured so heavily in the trailers, the car trap that Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington is put into, and an admittedly squirm-worthy sequence involving a fishhook, were great. Unfortunately, the rest were kind of lackluster. And while I see what they were going for during the ending sequence, bringing everything full circle, I felt that we, as an audience, deserved better.
The biggest downside, unsurprisingly, was the 3D. Like so many other 3D films, Saw 3D just didn’t need it. The traps hardly utilized it, and after the second time guts flew toward me, I stopped noticing it all together. Pirahna 3D had better 3D in it, for Pete’s sake.
That being said, the gore was there and even if the traps themselves were weak, the special effects were very well done. The returning actors’ performances were also great, if underutilized. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is only in a couple flashbacks, but they get the job done and Cary Elwes, who played protagonist Dr. Gordon in the original Saw, may have a very minute role, but it is satisfying enough. The soundtrack is also decent, and while it doesn’t break new ground, the main theme, which has always been a favorite of mine, continues to please.
What it all boils down to is one question: did the film do its job? In the end, yes. Jigsaw’s legacy is settled once and for all. I sincerely wish that they would have done more with the Jigsaw survivor group and developed Chad Donella’s character more, but they tried to do two movies in one, so you get what you get. It was, however, very cool seeing Cary Elwes reprise his role as Dr. Gordon.
Did I leave the theater satisfied? On the whole, yes, but instead of going out with bang, Saw 3D limped its way to its final resting place. I really, really wanted to love this movie, but instead, I ended up with an experience that was only okay. If you’ve toughed it out through the other six, Saw 3D is worth seeing. If you’re a newbie, seriously consider starting at the beginning, because that’s the only way you’ll get the full experience.