Saw III starts off where Saw II ended and where all of these movies begin, with Donnie Wahlberg trapped in a room with his foot shackled. After some slicing and dicing and cracking, he manages to escape, but in Saw fashion, director Darren Lynn Bousman quickly moves onto the next murder and then the next.
The movie starts off horribly, as the film flings its gore at the audience non-stop in the first 15 minutes. I have no problem with gratuitous gore, but those who have read my reviews for a while know that I have hated the first two Saw movies, mainly because they have bad acting, bad writing and absolutely acidic directing. Saw III's beginning only has one value: to give the audience what Bousman thinks we want, and that's death and destruction without any plot. Strangely, these two murders in the beginning are a real turn-off... but luckily the movie picks itself up after that.
Saw III could be the best movie of the three, though it's hard to tell. The first movie was a good concept, but horrific acting and even worse directing destroyed any potential it had. Saw II, which was also directed by Bousman, was just trying to be bigger and better and instead was just a disaster all around. So, maybe my expectations were just lowered so much that any glimmer of goodness would be regarded as quality, but Saw III seems just a tad smarter and a bit more logical.
This time around, Bousman still turns in pretty lame direction. He seems to think that it makes complete sense to flash quick shots and jerk the cameras around when ever something wild is on screen, and the result is a rather frenetic presentation. Thankfully, things aren't as crazy as they were in the first two Saw movies, as this time around the story is a bit more centered than in other rounds. Still, a good ten minutes are added to the running time of Saw III just so Bousman can do tricks with the camera.
Regardless of direction, I liked the story and presentation here much better than previous efforts. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and Amanda (Shawnee Smith) have abducted a doctor (Crash's Bahar Soomekh) to operate on the evil mastermind, who since the first film has been dying from a brain tumor (as Arnold would say, "brain tumahhh"). At the same time, another man (Braveheart's Angus Macfadyen) who recently lost his child in a car accident, finds himself in a labyrinth full of deadly contraptions. Instead of being the target, however, he finds himself in a position of power as he forced to decide between sacrificing himself to save those who allowed his child's killer to walk free, with the end goal to reach the man who actually killed his child in the first place. Can he overcome his rage and need for revenge to save other human beings?
Saw III thinks it is smarter than it actually is, but the movie's two corresponding storylines do converge in a pretty slick way. Unfortunately, while the plot is good, the protagonists still lack much intellect or believability. As with the previous two films, the characters fail to go above and beyond what is laid out for them. They follow Jigsaw's instructions word for word and never spend even a moment considering how to escape on their own terms. Macfadyen's character is especially frustrating, as he spends long minutes consumed in his own hate before deciding he better do something to save another person, on multiple occasions. He tries to save each person he encounters, but not until it is too late every frikking time.
Those who enjoyed the other Saw movies will find this new one a solid effort. For those who didn't like previous efforts, I wouldn't bother, but if you have to, Saw III is a decent entry and the most satisfying of the "trilogy."
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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