By Roger Moore
The Orlando Sentinel
The cop, who doesn’t seem shocked, horrified or even embarrassed by the mass murderer he and his mates can’t catch, calls it in.
“How many bodies?” Detective Gibson (Chad Donella) wants to know.
“Enough pieces to make four.”
Another October, another torture porn outing for Jigsaw, or his successors, at the movies. With “Saw 3D” it’s “Live or die, make your choice” time again as that creepy marionette with the disembodied voice of Tobin Bell instructs various victims he’s packaged into nasty, elaborate and gory traps about the lives they’ve led, the ways they’ve been found wanting, the “rebirth” he promises if they survive his “game.”
It’s all bunk and has been for years. Whatever moral lessons were presented in the earliest “Saw” seem to have been dispensed with as the movies grow more and more gruesome, with filmmakers caught up in “What would it look like if somebody’s jaw was ripped out, or their skin was glued to a car seat?” Pandering to the “‘Cool, let’s see that again” crowd has made Lionsgate rich but done nothing for this unendurable endurance contest of this long-enduring film franchise.
Jigsaw’s victims are getting together in a support group these days — people we’ve seen lose a limb or a loved one in past films sit and insist “I’m better off for enduring it.” The most better-off is Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flannery), a hustler with a book on his survival and a ready, bloody tale for whichever talk show has him as a guest. But Bobby hasn’t had his real test, has he?
Because we know that murderous cop ( Costas Mandylor) is still out there, carrying on Jigsaw’s post-mortem murder spree, renting all that recession-cheap real estate one needs for these vast ingenious obstacle courses of death and destruction, courses that the main victim must negotiate in an hour, failing time and again in quests to save friends, family and business associates.
“Saw 3D” flings a few entrails at the lens, but it’s a humorless affair, murder by rote. “Let’s see if we can make them avert their eyes from THIS gag.” “Let’s make them DUCK here.”
Two performances — the return of Cary Elwes from the first film (missing a leg, which he had to cut off to escape) and another chilling flashback turn by iguana-eyed Tobin Bell — stand out. Elwes has a testy resignation about him and Bell is just plain sinister. Most everybody else has read the credit lists for this series on the Internet Movie Database and realized no actor or filmmaker has “graduated” from the “Saw” abattoir and gone on to better things.
Any signs of life the series showed in the last installment (“Saw VI”), a dash of humanity here and there, were premature. This corpse is cold and getting colder. At least NEXT October is still a long way off.
WHAT: “Saw 3D”
RATED: R for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, and language
RATING: 1 star
RUNNING TIME: 1 hour, 27 minutes