I watched this with Sarah, Jo and - this time -Elisabeth. She hadn't seen any of the previous installments so it was going to be interesting her take at this point in the franchise. We all watched it at Tottentham Court Road Odeon and was offended by the West End (even though we weren't in the West End) prices. Something like £11 if I recall. Shocking. Watched it again prior to writing this review and it turned out to be better than I recalled. It was the worst in the franchise after the first watch. It remains the worst in the franchise but my opinion is slightly better having rewatched it as there is actually a point to the film. I thought it was unneccessary addition but, in fact, half the twists completely change what the sixth movie is about - it won't just be about Hoffman ... it will be more about Jill Tuck and her associations I assume. Nevertheless, David Hackl holds the fort this time so ...
What I reckon ...
So it is a continuation of franchise - but when we think back to Saw we now have different writers ... different directors ... most of the cast are dead from the first one. If not all the cast. Can it really continue? From the get-go there are problems as the opening credits are not the usual slightly-spooky, white-misty font appearing and disappearing - we are subjected to some very-cheap rusty metal font which simply looks awful. Especially when the 'V' glides down to secure its place on the word 'Saw'. A bad start if there ever was one.
The focus this time is the backstory behind Det. Hoffman -his backstory is explored and the question 'how did he and jigsaw join up?' is answered. Then more exposure as to how they worked as a team. While these plots are explored, we also see a different game involving five people who all have 'some' link. The overarching theme is teamwork - and how, through working as a team, you can succeed. Amanda failed in Saw III because she didn't - she began rebelling and going off her own way to kill people her own way ... Hoffman and Jigsaw's success in the capturing and killing of the third victim (the dude in the barbed wire in Saw) succeeded because they worked as a team. Funnily enough, the five people involved in Saw V's big trap don't succeed as well as they had hoped ... because they don't work together. They work selfishly and for themselves ... funnily enough this is their 'crime'. Something about a house that burned down with 8 people inside and, indirectly, the five people were aware and responsible for those deaths but didn't care because they wanted money. Interesting small role for Carlo Rota (aka, Morris from TV series 24) as a journalist.
As with all the installments, this one has flashbacks to the previous four films. The barbed wire trap in Saw (this seemed really good ... I never felt we revisited these aspects of Saw enough), then we also saw Hoffman assist Jigsaw in setting the house up in Saw II - a brief cameo of Obi as he is placed in position. then there is the finale of Saw III and Saw IV which is a given - as we were left in that room at the end of Saw IV with Special Agent Strahm.
By going about the film in some, how-do-I-put-it, Detective-on-the-case with, not-so-watchable character Strahm while we flash back and forth to establish no-way-as-cool-character Hoffman, the whole film feels like it is missing something. Maybe a likeable character is missing, because the people we truly follow and see are nowhere near as likeable as Rigg (Saw IV), Lynn (Saw III), Matthews (Saw II) and the poor saps Dr Gorden and Adam (Saw). Makes the watch so much more of an effort. Even Jill Tuck is uninteresting ... I hope she is better in Saw VI but, at this point, it is too eraly to tell. She has a box ... that's about all we know.
Interesting talking point on message boards is whether Strahm escaping his trap was purposeful ... for those not in the know, he escapes a drowning trap by jabbing a hollow pen in his neck to breathe. It is funny because I think he is lucky - the shock on Hoffman's face and (I assume) it was Hoffman put him into position in the first place. Otherwise there is a fourth accomplice and Jill Tuck dragging and setting-up Strahm seems a bit of a long stretch ... especially considering how 'unrealistic' Amanda's involvement of setting up Kerry in Saw III/IV was. Just a talking point though ...
It does well in showing us squirmy sequences - so lots of pressure to bones before they snap (Strahm holding himself in place before the bones give way, snap, break... and he is crushed) and the final trap for the five ... sawing your hand through the webbed sections of the hand. Could it be more squeamish.
So to close this semi-overview/review, we finish watching this film knowing that Jill Tuck is, in some way involved. We don't know how - or to what extent - but clearly she lied to the cops about Strahm following her, thus helping Hoffman gain his anonymity: Jigsaws gift to him. There is no clear clarity in the timeframe - and whether Saw V takes place prior to the autopsy we see at the beginning (and end) of Saw IV. It is these questions that keep people coming back. Saw VI closes the 'second' trilogy ... so it will be interesting what facet is finish. Hoffman is the focus and it is his goals and motives that will conclude the six-parts. Strahm isn't completely erased - as people might want to think - because I am sure you could find a way to prise open the crushing room and look at the DNA. Surely for Hoffman to get out of his glass coffin it has to be opened ... oh god ... will that be how Saw VI starts, parts of Strahm dropping onto the coffin and Hoffman getting out.
Right, enough second guessing. Saw VI is tonight ... review soon and, remember, spoilers will be all over it.