Saw IV (2007)
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Scott Patterson/Agent Strahm
It takes more than death to keep the cancer ridden and psychotic Tony Robbins inclined Jigsaw (Bell) down. Yes he still wants to play a freaking game (big baby) and teach peeps life lessons and this time Swat leader Rigg (Bent) is the pawn. ITS ON!
After SAW III it was over for me; the franchise had vomited all that it had to say and ended on a high note. I didn’t really care to get more SAW-ness ... not this year anyways. But the money talked and bullshit walked and even though SAW III had FINITO stamped on its left butt cheek; here’s SAW IV knocking on our door saying “trick or treat my box office returns bitches” once again. Was I tricked or treated! Read on!
Although I can’t yap that I was horny for this third sequel, I still walked into the theatre with an open mind, hoping to be blown by it. Nobody likes to see a lousy movie; I got shit to do yo! Alas, the film went down the way I thought it would. Remotely engaging but with “played out” written all over it. Yes the expression “beating a dead whore” arose in my melon many o times throughout this watch. With that stabbed, its not to say the film was a total waste of time. The screenplay (by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan replacing series regular Leigh Whannell) did a fine job at jumping over the hurdles that the third installment had put up, hence managing to slyly continue the storyline... even though...well... it was finished. Problem was, Jigsaw beyond the grave was not nearly as captivating as Jigsaw alive and well, doing what he does best. There was that something “special” missing here and no amount of Jigsaw flashbacks could bring it to this sequel.
Now the flick had me trapped when it focused on the character of Rigg (well tackled by Lyrick Bent who has star potential written all over him). I dug the nature of his game and the nuances that came with it. While being forced to play it, he was indivertibly the driving force behind it. Very slick…they went “further” with a well known SAW plot device. Great idea! The traps (the real reasons to see these films at this point) were on the money as well. Although far from having the impact of the ones in Part II or the “bigness” of the traps in part III, they still whooped it good. Think more grounded and that was the smart way to go after the opera of horror that was the last sequel. Moreover; although somewhat trite if you stop to think about it, the added insight in Jigsaw’s past was gripping enough (that Jigsaw dude was one unlucky mofo – he had an Afterschool Special life); mostly due to Tobin Bell owning the scenery like the champ that he is. Can you spell presence? Yes? No? WHO CARES! The man has it! He burned the screen!
Unfortunately the narrative here was weaker than the past entries and much like a coke-whore looking for the lost dime-bag she has in her pocket - more all over the place. Straight up when they tossed that dude from Part III back into the mix – I was like “Okay, it’s the dude from part III, why is he here again? Who cares!” In addition; the constant back and forth between the present and the past took away from the main narrative line… the one that interested me the most; Rigg and his game (NOTE: Was his wife kidnapped or not? Wasn’t clear or emphasized on enough to jack up the stakes). And with Amanda and Jigsaw “gone”; I wasn’t as invested in the twists or the half cocked mystery that were gunned out. Funnily enough the peeps behind the film weren’t either since the latter elements were played down in favor of the kills and Jigsaw’s past. It’s almost like they knew they were playing with a weaker “cerebral” hand than the previous films so they went under the wire with it.
Now I won’t go into the whole suspension of disbelief thing cause the film was all about that jive and I went with it, in the name of having a groovy time. But this ttiny qualm stuck with me: what was up with that one trap with a plot hole tagged to its runp? One victim could’ve easily been saved from harm, if our hero did the right thing (cut her hair dude, rip it with your hands if you have to, better that than her being scalped). But that wouldn’t have been as much fun I guess. That annoyed me for some reason. Finally, when the ending kicked in and Charlie Clouser’s now staple musical cue arose; I yawned. Yes there was a twist and yes somebody said “Game Over”. Too bad the surprise was ho hum to say the least and the only thing I got from the “Game Over” line was that I agreed…GAME OVER on this franchise… on a creative level anyways.
So when the timer ran out of tick-tock and the trap vice-gripped my balls… was I entertained by SAW IV? Yes I was. All of the necessary ingredients were in the house and the pace was clipped enough for me to never get bored or hurt. But the magic was gone for me – they were just punching in their card with this one and I don’t blame them; there’s nothing left to do with these films BUT punch in that freaking card and call it a life. Maybe Jigsaw should start killing peeps in their dreams in Part 5; because this severed head has been bled dry. THE END? I doubt it…
We get a grisly autopsy scene, knives carving a face, rods in flesh, eye being popped, rods in wrists, body ripped apart, head squashed...and more! Not the wince inducer that was Part 3 but you will see blood!
Lyriq Bent (Rigg) had the looks, chops and charm. Too bad he would disappear from the film for too long - he's who I was interested in. Tobin Bell (Jigsaw) owned it once again, giving layers to what could be a very one-dimensional part. Also, I just love to watch the guy do his shit onscreen. There's something unique about him. I always boogied to Costas Mandylor (Hoffman); he's a fine actor that's not used enough. He shined here...when he wasn't sitting in a chair with a gag in his mouth i.e. 85% of the time. Scott Patterson (Agent Strahm) did what he had to do well for the most part, he overplayed it a bit too much now and then for my liking. How many times can a dude sling a table across the room? COME ON! Tables are our friends!
T & A
We're treated to some light cleavage (yawn) and the ladies get Lyriq Bent showing off his Gold Gym upper body.
Darren Lynn Bousman knows this game all too well by now, having directed Part 2 and 3. The zany camera shots, the clever scene transitions, the potent milking of the trap’s momentum and the random boo scares all worked it to the bone. At the same time; again, something was missing, not sure what…something.
For some reason Charlie Clouser's score felt too low key this time around and it carried little impact....yes...even during the final scene. No goose bumps from me on this round.
SAW IV or SAW IV A New Beginning as I like to call it, felt like what it was; a film that was made in the name of dough…not because there was anything left to say narrative wise. I mean some dude wearing a hockey mask chopping up dumb teens can come back endlessly cause that’s all he is. A dude in a goalie mask hacking teens. The SAW films on the end are smarter than that; thus it’s harder to keep them going while retaining the smarts and the edge. Best way I could put it is this: you know how some people stay in romantic relationships even though it’s over in their hearts? They just go through the motions, do what they always did but without that flicker, that meaning, that genuineness. Well that’s SAW IV for ya. It’s over, yet it’s still going on and it shows. NOTE: SAW IV did 32 Million this weekend so you can bet your sister's ass that there will be a SAW V.
Donnie Wahlberg's character wasn't in the original script. But his time freed up and he was written in during production.
This was the first SAW to have the involvement of writer Leigh Whannell tagged to it.
Lyriq Bent is Canadian and we love him for it ; )
THE OFFICIAL SAW IV SITE HERE