Directed by James Wan.
Written by Leigh Whannell.
Starring Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannel, Danny Glover and Ken Leung.
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 11/15/04
I really thought that "Saw" was going to
suck...so, why didn't it?
Maybe it's because somebody came up with a
fairly cool idea, flipped the story around so most of it comes in
flashback, and then drove it home with a great, great ending.
Who does that any more??
"Saw" starts out with two guys locked up in
a room with a dead body, an unloaded gun and a tape recorder.
Through a couple of clues left by a shady psychopath, the two
guys--Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes, who did "The Princess Bride"
almost 20 years ago now) and Adam (Leigh Whannell, who also wrote
the screenplay)--find a few more items in the room...including two
hacksaws, which don't seem to cut through the chains keeping the men
prisoner but DO seem to cut very well through human flesh...
...and, of course, there's more, but to not
give it all away, you'll need to see what happens for yourself.
Here's the thing--"Saw" is surprisingly watchable, even if you don't
enjoy watching some of the more grisly details of why the men are in
the room in the first place or who this psychopath really is.
Man, there's just this absolutely nasty sequence where the killer
has got this headress on a woman that must find a key for her
contrapment in a dead body...that...well, isn't really dead
yet...that...whoa. Meanwhile, we get to learn more about what
landed Adam and the doctor in the room, and this helps build the
tension behind how the men are going to get outta there before a
timeline is hit and both men are murdered by the killer.
Director James Wan (a rookie) does a great
job of keeping things tense by giving us a couple of scares mixed
with some really nasty stuff, too. But, he's lucky to have
some decent actors; Danny Glover does decent work with a throwaway
part, and Elwes is his reliable self as the doctor faced with either
letting himself die in his new mini-prison or killing his cellmate
to save the lives of his family. And the desolate feel of the
cell where the two guys are being held is just perfect for all of
this; you almost feel half sick to your stomach just watching the
guys in that cell, waiting to die.
But, it's the ending that lifts "Saw" from
Matinee to $9.50 Show; I like the twisty ending periodically if it
really suits the film just right, but in "Saw" the ending is nearly
perfect. I mean, I was fairly happy when this thing was
winding down, but then they just drop it on you, and you're like
"Damn! That was good, bro!" Yeah, I was liking that shit
alotsa. Thought I had it fairly well figured out but didn't
see that one coming; that kind of good, you know?
Hey, you're right, it's not going to win the
Oscar, but I had a good time and "Saw" is very engaging. Not
for the squeamish, not at all.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$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