Review: Saw 4 (2007

D: Darren Lynn Bousman
S: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Lyriq Bent

The latest installment of the Saw franchise picks up where the last left off, almost immediately in fact.  Jigsaw is dead (sorry for the spoiler), but his games are not over.  During the autopsy of Jigsaw, a cassette tape is found in his stomach that begins the process of a new, posthumous game of cat and mouse, life and death.  The players this time are the police officers who have been spending the last years of their career tracking down the serial killer.  Sergeant Rigg is the primary actor, and it is his inability to allow others make their own choices and decisions that has driven his choice as the latest victim of Jigsaw.

What makes this perhaps the most interesting, unique, and intense of the series is the manner in which all of the history of Jigsaw is intertwined with the current story being told.  We find out a lot more about what drove Jigsaw to start his murderous games, while at the same time being presented with different views of the events of the "present" and the events of Saw 3.  It's a little distracting at first, and it takes a few inter-takes to really "get" what is going on.  By the end, you not only see the results of Jigsaw's latest test, but you understand exactly how it ties in with prior events.  The time shifting in this film is perhaps not only the most effective that I've seen in many years, but the payoff at the end is quite impressive.

As with the other Saw movies, there's not much detail you can dive into without ruining the basic storyline of the movie.  Plus, much of the drama and intensity is visual - the traps, the games, and the sequences that Jigsaw's victims must work through are difficult to distill down to mere words.  And, as with each outing in the series, the violence and gore are amped up yet again for this outing.  The traps are more vicious, more devious, and definitely more dangerous in this latest installment.  It is definitely a worthy installment in this series, and it leaves the door open to the next one, which will undoubtedly wind up hitting us around Halloween of 2008.