Puppets of Death
It's hard to deny that the "Saw" movies have been some of the most successful horror movies in the past few years. They have tapped into the audience's lust for outrageous gore, torture and death, 3 things which don't necessarily appeal to me but know if used intelligently can help make for an interesting movie. Unfortunately in this third part of the "Saw" collection they have gone all out on providing gore but seemingly without the intelligence of the first two movies.
In "Saw III" Jigsaw (Tobin Bell - The Quick and the Dead), who is now on his death bed, enlists the help of survivor Amanda (Shawnee Smith - Saw II) to play one final game targeting two strangers, Lynn (Bahar Soomekh) an unhappily married doctor and Jeff (Angus Macfadyen) a distraught father struggling to come to terms with the loss of his son due to a drink driver. With Lynn placed in an exploding neck brace which is linked to Jigsaw's heart monitor, she must strive to keep him alive long enough to watch how Jeff gets on as he has to face up to all those who were crucial to his son's killer getting a lenient sentence and decide whether they should die or not.
Straight away "Saw III" sets out its intentions very clearly and before we get anywhere near too the actual main storyline we get treated, if that's the right word, to 3 scenes which will challenge you as to whether you can stomach the visual horror and gore on display. Now I am sure the sheer brutality of these opening scenes had some lusting for more of the same but for me it felt like they were trying to hard to shock with scenes which appeared to have little direct relevance to the actual story.
This is part of the trouble with "Saw III" it has a feel that they came up with various ideas for torture scenes which would top what they had done before but failed to come up with anywhere near as good a storyline. In fact the storyline this time is extremely weak and the fact that the underlying reason for Jigsaw's latest victims is that they are wasting their lives with grief and depression doesn't give it the same effect as when the victims were criminals.
But whilst I found the reasoning behind the main storyline weak I did like the fact that the storyline progresses from "Saw II". We see that Jigsaw is now seriously ill and has little time to live and so as well as playing a game with the two intentional victims he is also testing his assistant to see if they are capable of carrying on his work. This does make "Saw III" just fall short of being just torture porn but not enough to really save it from being a poor sequel.
As already mentioned "Saw III" sets the benchmark very high in the opening sequences for how brutal the gore will be this time round and it continues with the same manner throughout the entire movie. The only negative really is that the means of torture are far more obvious this time around and where as before you would be trying to work out how the contraptions would work, this time it's too in your face. It also doesn't help that those who get inflicted to the torture in this third movie are only on the screen for their demise, there is no build up to their characters and so really are just puppets of death as you don't really feel anything for them.
Acting wise well again it's a little disappointing, Tobin Bell despite spending most of his time laying in bed dieing does the best job as Jigsaw. There really is something about the Jigsaw character which is quite unnerving, even in death he seems totally in control and playing his games. As for the other actors and actresses well for me it felt like everything had taken a step backwards and gone into over the top mode with exaggerated facial expressions, big hand movements and an ability to deliver lines without a single shred of realism.
What this all boils down to is that sadly "Saw III" is not as good as its predecessors. It fails to engage the audience with a storyline which drags you into what is going on. Instead it turns up the dial on the violence and torture to the point where it starts to become questionable whether the movie is really just torture porn and little else. The intelligence of the first "Saw" movies appears to be missing and except for Tobin Bell the performances really fail to make "Saw III" anything but below par.