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"Saw III"

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman.
Written by Leigh Whannel and James Wan.
Starring Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Bahar Soomekh and Angus Macfadyen.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  10/31/2006


I knew coming in that "Saw III" would be dogshit.  Maybe not complete dogshit, but certainly, dogshit.  The first "Saw" ended up being great because of its bad-ass ending; with a twist as good as it had (and the sheer nasty level being at full-tilt), it made up for a very average first 90 minutes.  "Saw II" tried not-so-valiantly to give us a little somethin'-somethin' at the end, but its plot was even worse than the first film, it felt cheap, its kills were ridiculous AND the ending couldn't touch the first movie.

So, in establishing a theme, you know that "Saw III" is going to have a little somethin' for us at the end.  But, this time, you see most of it coming, and worse, you can tell that the screenwriters ("Saw" creators James Wan and Leigh Whannel) wanted to give us a little more backstory, a little more feeling, a little more character, but were not able to find actors that could fit the bill.  Then, you throw in some truly gratuitous kills and an ending that doesn't bode well for the series' future and this--for me, at least--will be my final "Saw" experience.

But why did "Saw III" much such a load of fucking cash this past weekend?  Because people will do anything for a fix of bloody horror.  In "Saw III", we get to watch as our boy Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), damn near death, leads his protege, Amanda (series vet Shawnee Smith), for one last game--kidnap and unleash a man (Angus Macfadyen) in the Saw labyrinth to discover the true identity of the killer of his little boy while giving those that had a chance to help him the opportunity to live or die while on the quest for the truth.  During all of this, Jigsaw forces a surgeon (Bahar Soomekh) to take care of him while this last game is going on...and, if Jigsaw were to die, a newly-fitted necklace (thanks to Amanda) will blow the doctor's freakin' head off.

"Saw III" is drawn out to no end, thanks (no thanks, actually) to constant flashbacks to the first two films, which is mostly unnecessary to those that have seen the other films but unhelpful to those new to the series...nothing more than what we have can really establish the Jigsaw/Amanda bond more completely, anyway.  Thanks to fewer kills and a longer movie, "Saw III" seems to be moving in the wrong direction, strange for a horror film with such a large following.  Bell is his normal growling self, but the rest of the cast is so bad they are laughable...Smith almost single-handedly kills the mood in every one of her scenes.

But, as bad as all of this is, I won't lie--a couple of the kills were cool!  There are no laughs, there's no sex, there's nothing off on the sideline that would make me happy, either...but, when bloodletting occurs, at least "Saw III" didn't pussyfoot it by giving us the PG-13 version of this story.  It's bad, but not God-awful.

Rating:  Rental


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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 "Office Space"). 

"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, 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 half stars." 

"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 Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09