Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Living Board Game
The Saw series is an interesting case. There’s a million reasons why I really shouldn’t like them, but for some reason…I do. Call it a guilty pleasure, call it torture porn, call it whatever you want, but there are interesting elements to these films that I find myself fascinating and I am compelled to watch. Interestingly enough, Saw did have quite a few hints as to what the second movie would at least touch base with, and it does. Though, all-in-all, Saw II starts its own series of movies, given how much is actually different than the first film.
Even though focus is done equally on the victim side and police side, Saw II clearly had Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) as the central character, as he is trying to find a way to save his son Daniel (Erik Knudsen) from Jigsaw’s wrath. Daniel is among seven other “players” in Jigsaws latest range of games throughout an entire house. A biological weapon is coursing through all of the player’s veins, and they must go test after test to find antidotes to save themselves, and ultimately win the game. Detective Matthews tracks down Jigsaw, but after attempting to beat answers out of him, Jigsaw continues to play mind games with him and the other officers.
I guess the first thing to talk about would be the apparent differences between the first and second film. The main difference is obviously in the story development. The first one was more focused on the psychological aspect, and no matter the sequel, the psychological factor will always be the strongest in the first film, hands down. Because the first one had less violence and less characters, you are able to care about the characters more, and feel closer to their experience. However, the acting by Cary Elwes was a joke…which depleted the overall enjoyment of the movie. For the most part, that’s what differed.
Now, like the first film, the players are all connected to each other in some form or fashion, but discovering that connection wasn’t the central focus to the movie like the first one. It’s more or less the opposite. The audience finds out the connection rather quickly, and it is instead important for the players to not find out the connection.
One main addition to this movie, which helped it tremendously, is Tobin Bell’s participation. He was barely seen in the first one, and everyone knows he is Jigsaw now, so it’s his time to shine. This movie gave a brief history to Tobin’s history, and a more concrete answer as to his motivation and why his personal mission is to have his “players” respect their own lives. We also learn how smart Jigsaw is, and that he honestly doesn’t ever lie. So in respect, it shows how easy the players can get out of their situation if they weren’t scared to death. That part is a brain twister. That part…is what ultimately also makes this film memorable.
The whole thing is played more like a board game, with several players trying to get to the end goal. That was a major difference, and one that even though I preferred how it was done in the first, I can also respect. It was done in order to get a different reaction from the audience, but not in a way you can connect with the players. Most of the players, you will forget, other than Daniel. You might get a chuckle out of Beverly Mitchell being one of the players, though.
The games were enhanced, of course, and quite a few of them are memorable. The gun connected to the door’s peep hole, the needle in the needle stack, the hands stuck in the razor trap. A lot of these games you’ll remember above a lot of the other sequels, and that’s always good, no matter how twisted they are.
The twist wasn’t as strong as the first one, but it at least connected the first and second movie, and there were some cool things about it as well. One thing I remember from the series as a whole is how the movies and twists usually are all connected to each other, and that’s something the movie also sets itself apart from others like it. So blame me all you want, I liked Saw II to a degree, but I mostly see it as a movie with hints for things to come.