I take back what I said about Cary Elwes in the first Saw movie. I took back what I said about Leigh Whannell (the other guy in the room with the Dread Pirate Roberts) and his acting after I met him and discovered that he was hiding his accent. But I still didn't think that Cary Elwes was any good in the first movie.
But oh no. Now there's Angus Macfayden. He's an actor I generally enjoy. He was great in Equilibrium, as well as Braveheart (although, I don't fellate that film like so many others do). But here, in Saw 3, as the latest victim in Jigsaw's twisted little mind games, he's horrible. Seriously. Never believed him for a second. And although I think he's supposed to be drunk and/or hungover, he looks as if he might actually be drunk and stumbled into the wrong movie.
Luckily for us, and bad for the movie, Macfayden really isn't in the film all that much. I say bad for the movie because his storyline is the more interesting of the film, and it's barely in there. Macfayden plays Jeff, a father who lost his son three years ago to a drunk driver. The drunk driver got off with 6 months in prison, and Jeff feels it shouuld have been longer, and he plots his drunken revenge while ignoring his wife and daughter. Seriously, he talks in the mirror holding the gun, while in his bathrobe, and rehearses what he'd say to the man. But he does nothing about it.
Anyway, he's trapped by Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and Amanda (Shawnee Smith, who looks great for having just given birth in real life.) in a maze of horrific "tests", meant to bring Jeff closer to either forgiving those involved or exacting his vengeance.
But there's another plot going on while this is happening. This involves the kidnapping of a doctor named Lynn (Bahar Soomekh). Lynn is an expert surgeon, and this is shown in a terrible scene. On the plus side, this scene manages to prove that even in a more "Dramatic" scene, no scene in a Saw movie is complete without excessive blood.
Right, so Lynn is kidnapped by Amanda, and forced to keep Jigsaw alive so that he may view Jeff's progress through the tests. Jigsaw, you may remember, has a brain tumor which is the main instigator behind his blood soaked "life lessons". He's on his deathbed in his creepy lair, tended to by Amanda and now by Lynn. Lynn, it should be noted, has a collar around her neck which contains multiple shotgun shells cocked and at the ready. Should Jigsaw's heart rate stop, the collar will activate. Which means blood and carnage, but it also means that Lynn has to do everything in her power to keep Jigsaw alive just long enough. This also involves a scene involving some impromptu surgery, which I am kind of proud to admit is the first scene in motion picture history to make me want to vomit.
Seriously, I almost did. I couldn't believe it. Not just knee jerk "ewww", but full on I could feel it rising in my stomach. It's a disgusting scene. Mostly due to sound design. I'll let you discover it for yourself if you want.
Oh, and interspersed throughout the film are flashbacks that take up far too much time. And not flashbacks like in the first film, which actually helped figure out the plot. These flashbacks feel like padding, which the film, at almost 2 hours, doesn't really need. Saw 2 was lean as hell and moved like a bullet. This one... well, more on this later. But there really is no need to see what exactly happened involving Jigsaw's setting up of the events in the first film. At least, there's no need to spend as much time as they did on it, even if it was nice to uncover how Jigsaw managed to stay on the ground for so long without giving away his game.
Ok, so that's what happens in the movie. Sounds like quite a bit doesn't it? On top of that, you have what feels like three separate openings to the film that kind of drag, and seem only intersted in disgusting you and/or making you cheer. I enjoyed these scenes, and the macabre sense that went into coming up with them, but, and I never thought I'd say this about a Saw movie, they feel kind of forced. As if to say "You thought the needle scene in Saw 2 was gross? Check this shyte out!"
On top of which, these scenes have little to do with the actual plot of the film. Sure, they have a bit of character development, but they don't quite work so well, if I understand the ending correctly. At least not in a way that makes a lot of sense.
And this is what kills me about Saw 3, especially after Saw 2. Saw 2 had a momentum, a great sense of pacing in addition to the brutality. And that brutality was clever. Here, it's just disgusting, as if the director is taunting Eli Roth to top him in Hostel 2. (which will probably happen). Saw 3 doesn't deliver like it should. Sure it's disgusting, and some of it is fun if you're as twisted as I am, but after awhile it becomes irritating. On top of which, there is the need for a "Twisty ending" that's all the rage these days, that again doesn't quite add up. (Although the final shocker I felt was pretty damn good).
I have no idea what's going to happen in Saw 4, but I can honestly say I'm not looking forward to it. Saw 3 is kind of a mess, with some hastily edited scenes and poor writing. Gone is the wit of the first two movies, staying behind is the poor acting and the grotesque death sequences, which feel more gross than clever. And this is a damn shame, because Jigsaw is one of the only movie-land killers I enjoyed seeing. He was a more demented John Doe, who seemed to actually have a good enough motive. Alas, Saw 3 feels like it was just made for the money and not the love. And that's what ultimately is it's downfall.
Oh well. There's always Hostel 2.