Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman.
Written by Leigh Whannel and Darren Lynn Bousman.
Starring Donnie Wahlberg, Shawnee Smith, Franky G and Tobin Bell.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 11/01/2005
The first "Saw", a
film that really should have been dogshit, featured what might have
been the best ending in a film last year that elevated it a full two
grades in my book; one could imagine that the original film's
creators, director James Wan and co-star Leigh Whannel, came up with
an ending so brilliant that they just had to come up with a
halfway-decent storyline to set it all up. Well, they did, and
had enough kitschy work from stars Cary Elwes and Danny Glover to
pull it off. That, and a boatload of blood and gore.
The sequel, which actually looks cheaper and
has less acting talent than the first film, brings back our main
man, the psychopath known as Jigsaw (Tobin Bell). In the city
where the original film took place, a dirty cop named Matthews
(Donnie Wahlberg) tracks down Jigsaw after Jigsaw leaves clues for
Matthews that gives away the location of his lair. Since the
assumption is that you have seen the first "Saw", you know this is
all a set-up...so, when Matthews and a big-league S.W.A.T. team
arrive at the Jigsaw warehouse, he's just sitting there, waiting for
Matthews and friends to play his newest game--trying to figure out
the whereabouts of an abandoned house filled with seven people, all
set to die in two hours unless the cops can find the house.
Worse, Jigsaw invites the cops to watch all of these folks die on
closed-circuit TV, which is streaming the action in on six monitors
from cameras scattered throughout the house. Oh, and one more
thing...one of those people is Matthews' son Daniel (Eric Knudsen),
so Matthews has got to act fast!
"Saw" made a ton of money--$55 million, when
all was said and done, on a $2 million budget. And that was
just in theater box office; it made an additional killing on home
video earlier this year. So, one would think that they would
have a comfortable margin in reserves to make a, say, $10 million
sequel, right? Wow, maybe even $8 million? In today's
terms, that is nothing. Horror films, by their nature, are
cheap, relatively easy to make and these days they all seem to make
a decent showing for their respective opening weekend. But why
does "Saw II" look so bad? Why does the film feature actors
even worse than in the first film? Donnie MOTHERFUCKING
Wahlberg? The only good thing he has done is appear in the
utterly peerless war drama "Band of Brothers." Otherwise, I
would argue that amongst guys with famous brothers, he might even
fall below Frank Stallone, director of the worst film ever made,
"Hard Vice." In "Saw II", as we watch Wahlberg play Matthews
as the tired, clichéd over-the-edge cop that was written for him,
you can just sense how difficult it must have been to direct someone
so talentless in something so poorly written. I can just see
Director: "Okay Donnie, this time I
need you to act REALLY pissed off that Jigsaw has imprisoned your
Wahlberg: "You mean, like I did when I pounded my fist on the
Director: "No...let's add another layer to this, so this time,
pound your fist and then wipe down your face with the same
hand. THAT will sell it!"
Franky G (another burning-hot star: his TV
show "Jonny Zero" bombed miserably on FOX last year) is another of
the stars that is perfectly cast but has a tired part to play; even
Dina Meyer (biggest film hit: "Starship Troopers") seems to forget
how to act following her extensive TV career, her line reading is so
atrocious. The only entertaining actor in this film is Tobin
Bell, who plays the strangely-levelheaded killer as a funny
anti-hero who is given a Past that adds an interesting layer to the
story halfway through, something that is certainly different in
terms of the genre.
But, you don't go to see horror films for
the acting anyway. How are the kills? Surprisingly
boring. Even in the film's truly hair-raising spectacle, when
one of the characters gets dumped into a shallow man-made pool of
syringes that contains the key to a door, no one even dies. A
couple of guys get shot, one gets a bludgeon, a couple die of toxic
nerve gas poisoning in the house. One doesn't even die, she
just kind of watches as her hands...well, you'll see.
SPOILERS!! How were the surprises?
Well, much like the first film, you will either live or die by the
end sequence of "Saw II", where we find out what kind of game Jigsaw
is truly playing. After the whopper of an ending from the
first film, I was kind of expecting this one to not match the
coolness of the first go-round...but, you kind of wonder what is
happening right away in that house, thanks to the camerawork going
on. I won't claim that I had it figured out right away, just
was curious as to why our man Matthews wasn't showing up on any feed
when he arrived at the house. And, come on, making the girl
from the first movie that survived one of the games play the new
devil child? I was pawing for air, too.
I'm glad I watched "Saw II", because I was
anxious to see if the magic was back...but, sadly, it was not, and
since it made so much cash last weekend, we can guarantee ourselves
a sequel any minute! Blah...
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard