Combustible Celluloid
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With: Tobin Bell, Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, Clé Bennett, Hannah Emily Anderson, Mandela Van Peebles, Laura Vandervoort, Brittany Allen, Paul Braunstein, Josiah Black
Written by: Josh Stolberg, Pete Goldfinger
Directed by: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
MPAA Rating: R for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, and for language
Running Time: 91
Date: 10/26/2017

Jigsaw (2017)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Blade Bummer

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The previous, seventh Saw movie, Saw 3D (2010), promised to be the "final chapter." Breaking that promise, the new movie Jigsaw does feature a few clever traps, but also sadly thin characters and ridiculous twists.

It has been ten years since the notorious killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) was killed. Five people wake up with buckets on their heads and chained at the neck. They are dragged toward spinning saws that won't stop unless they offer up some blood. One doesn't make it. From there the traps continue, with deadly, gruesome planning and precision.

Meanwhile, Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) brings a shooting victim to the morgue, where medical examiners Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) and Eleanor Bonneville (Hannah Emily Anderson) find clues leading back to Jigsaw. Along with Detective Hunt (Clé Bennett), they begin to suspect who the killer might be. Not trusting the cops, they head to where the clues lead: an abandoned pig farm full of spiky, murderous equipment. Will anyone survive?

The "games" in Jigsaw have the feel of a spooky, grown-up haunted house, even if the characters that are put through them are aggravatingly shallow, and spend most of the movie screaming at one another. This time, most of the movie is focused on the police detectives and the medical examiners.

There are a few other characters. A secret, closet Jigsaw fan, Eleanor Bonneville (Hannah Emily Anderson) keeps a studio full of sinister sculptures. Her work partner Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) is said to have been tortured in the war and Skypes with his loving daughter. Unfortunately, even this stuff doesn't really add up to much. The movie's weird final "twist" is one of those things that elicits a "huh?" response, and doesn't make enough sense to warrant a second viewing.

Weirdly, Jigsaw was directed by the talented Australian twins Michael and Peter Spierig, whose Daybreakers (2010) and Predestination (2015) were so good. (Perhaps they are responsible for the movie's few good points?) Hopefully it was a nice paycheck for them. At least Tobin Bell, returning as Jigsaw, is fun in his few scenes onscreen.

Lionsgate has released a fine Blu-ray that will thrill fans of the series (even the discs are designed like saw blades). It comes with an optional DVD and digital copy, a commentary track with producers Mark Burg, Oren Koules, and Peter Block, a short featurette on the movie's props, and a long, multi-part documentary on the entire franchise, as well as the decision behind rebooting it.

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