Saw III Review
By Shawn McKenzie 11/05/2006
When we last left our heroes, Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) is chained to the same famous bathroom from the first two movies. He manages to break free of the chain by using the lid of the toilet and crawl away. We then switch to Detective Kerry (Dina Meyer) and SWAT Team leader Rigg (Lyriq Bent) investigating what Kerry thinks might be the corpse of Matthews. It turns out that it’s the corpse of Troy (J. LaRose), a convict who had been in and out of jail his whole life. In a flashback, we see that Troy had been chained up through various parts of his skin, and Billy, the weird puppet from the first two movies, ordered him to prove that he really wanted to escape his chains within a minute or the room he was in would blow up. Obviously, he failed, but Kerry found that it was odd that the door of the room was welded shut. She is considered the “Jigsaw expert,” since she has been trying to capture the Jigsaw Killer, a.k.a. John Kramer (Tobin Bell), for years. The reason that the welding was odd was that John always gave his victims the opportunity to escape if they passed one of his tests. It wouldn’t matter if Troy passed his test this time, since he couldn’t escape. She doesn’t get a chance to explore this new development further though, because, later that night, she is killed by another one of John’s traps. Meanwhile, a gifted surgeon named Dr. Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) is a depressed, antidepressant-swallowing woman who is contemplating divorce from her husband. After completing a shift at her hospital, she is kidnapped by Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith), John’s protégé and a former victim of the madman who does John’s bidding. He had Amanda kidnap Lynn because he needs the doctor to operate on a frontal lobe tumor putting pressure on his brain. He is near death, but he hopes that Lynn will be able to extend his life just a little bit longer. Also, he is having visions of a pretty blonde woman named Jill (Betsy Russell), whom I suspect we will learn more about in a future sequel. Amanda has created a trap that will force Lynn to help him. It’s a collar around Lynn’s neck surrounded by shotgun shells that’s wirelessly connected to John’s heart monitor and will explode the shells should he flatline or should she get more than 30 feet away from him. She also has a timetable to work under as well. She needs to complete the procedure before another one of John and Amanda’s victims completes his test. The victim is Jeff Reinhart (Angus Macfadyen), an angry man who still holds a grudge toward Tim Young (Mpho Koaho), the drunk driver who accidentally killed Jeff’s eight-year-son Dylan (Stefan Georgiou) three years ago. John’s whole goal is to force people to learn lessons in the most extreme way possible, and he wants Jeff to learn to forgive the people that wronged him. This includes Danica Scott (Debra Lynne McCabe), the witness who fled the scene of the accident; Judge Halden (Barry Flatman), the judge who gave Tim a light 6-month sentence; and Tim himself. All three of them have been kidnapped and may be killed via one of John’s painful traps unless Jeff helps them. With Amanda’s increasing jealousy of Lynn and Jeff’s difficulty in letting go of old grudges, things grow dim in their abilities to escape with their lives.
Last year, I commented that the quickie follow-up to 2004’s Saw was unique in the fact that it didn’t suck like the sequels of other horror movie franchises. Saw III proved that writers James Wan and Leigh Whannell could do it again.
I was excited to see the movie, but I was a little suspicious. The first two movies had been screened for critics, but this installment wasn’t for some reason (thanks to Century Theatres for letting me check it out.) I needn’t have worried, because the movie rocked.
It was a little different from the first two movies in good and bad ways. The traps weren’t as cool or unique this time around, which was a little disappointing (though there might be a little bit of an explanation of their possible suckiness in the story.) The back-story was more filled in though this time. You were able to see the motivation of these characters and how they came about (I also recommend checking out Saw: Rebirth, a comic book one-shot published by IDW Publishing, for more of John’s story preceding the events that took place in the first movie.) There was more of an emotional connection, especially between John and Amanda.
For this reason, I almost consider it a graphically violent version of ABC’s “Lost.” With each passing movie, we see more and more of the characters’ lives via flashbacks. If you check out the franchise’s page on Wikipedia, you will see that there is a whole universe to explore about the characters involved (though not quite as extensive as the “Lost” universe.)
Bell continued to be just as creepy this time, but it was Smith that was able to show her truly evil side. Unfortunately for the actress, I think that she may not be able to escape the role that made her famous in the future (forget her work on CBS’s “Becker.”) Even though I thought that the stories of the other characters were interesting, the actors who played their roles didn’t stand out to me. I was mostly focused on Bell and Smith.
I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it almost looks like this would be the closing chapter of the series if it weren’t for the fact that Lionsgate announced that Saw IV was greenlighted based on Saw III’s impressive $33.6 million opening weekend (which was the best opening weekend of the franchise so far.) It will be released next Halloween (the projected release date is October 26, 2007.) In addition, Bell announced that he had signed a contract for five sequels. While this produces groans by other critics…for me, I couldn’t be more thrilled. It just takes creative minds like Wan and Whannell to expand what was obviously an extensive story they already had in their minds which warranted multiple movies to tell it all.
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