“Saw III,” the latest installment in this popular and sadistic series, is easily the goriest. But blood and guts aside, the film falters towards the end, and is a fairly disappointing sequel. Everyone’s favorite maniacal mastermind John Kramer, a.k.a. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), is back—and he’s dying. Suffering from a quickly degenerating condition, Jigsaw’s only wish is to see his latest victim, the grief-stricken Jeff (Angus Macfayden), make it through a series of torturous tests. So, he has his equally kooky assistant Amanda (Shawnee Smith) kidnap gifted doctor Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh). Lynn’s task is straightforward enough: Keep Jigsaw alive long enough for him to see his final victim meet his fate—or die along with him, in an inventively gruesome fashion.
The first half of the film focuses quite a bit on the rather twisted relationship between Jigsaw and Amanda—a sort of warped father/daughter dynamic—to pretty interesting and compelling results. Sadly though, this concept gets lost as part of the obligatory “surprise” ending, which frankly, in the second sequel, isn’t that surprising anymore. We could guess pretty much halfway through how the whole debacle was going to end. While it’s certainly nowhere near as cool as the original, there are some things about “Saw III” that will certainly keep its (pardon the pun) die-hard fan base happy. The direction by Darren Lynn Bousman (“Saw II”) is true to form, providing exactly the kind of stylish quick cuts that make it look like one very long heavy metal music video, and the gore in this one is taken up several sickening notches. While it’s not like anyone watches these for outstanding acting, we have to admit that Smith does a decent job of portraying Amanda’s instability and unpredictability. This franchise seems to have finally reached its inevitable saturation point. Catch this one if you just want to scope out kick-ass death scenes, but otherwise, don’t bother.
Best Bit: The circular saw.