- James Wan
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The result is pretty amazing. One’s gotta admit that the premise is intriguing and I must say it pays off. It builds tension from the start and does nothing but increase it little by little. The first thing we see is a guy called Adam (Whannell) waking up in a dirty, smelly old bathroom and realizing he’s living a wicked experience. He shares the room with two guys: one shot, in the middle of the room, and one in the same situation as himself, on the other side. That’s Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes), who woke up before him but also has no clue what’s going on. Both guys go through many phases as they accept their situation and learn to trust each other to the possible extent. Lawrence just might have an idea who’s doing this to them if not why. Eventually, the psycho, known as the Jigsaw Killer, communicates with them, and gives them clues. There’s only one way out, he says: Dr. Gordon must kill Adam before six o’clock. If he doesn’t, Gordon’s wife and daughter, currently kidnapped by this guy, will be killed. Thus starts a battle against time in a search for a resolution, the most angst-ridden life experience possible.
The film is quick and exciting. I thought it’d stick to the one location where these characters are, but no, it goes to flashbacks of previous killings and also an investigation by two detectives, Tapp (Danny Glover) and Sing (Ken Leung). Even though we never get to know much about the psycho, we do feel immersed in his world of deadly traps, and we do feel the anxiety he causes to anyone who gets involved with him or by him. Detective Tapp is a good example of a person whose life changes because of this murderer. But he’s not the only one.
If not a masterpiece, not perfectly logical, not quite plausible, and not entirely satisfactory, Saw is a pretty damn good film. It keeps the viewer entertained and never quite lets down. The script is not bad concerning dialogue and pacing, and Wan’s direction is up for it. I’m not sure everyone loved the performances -- my colleague Morris trashed Elwes -- but I was very satisfied by both stars and pleased to see Cary in this kind of role. Glover was also a nice surprise and everyone else (including Michael Emerson, Monica Potter, Makenzie Vega, Shawnee Smith, Tobin Bell, et al) does a good job as well.
What’s with this guy Whannell? Came out of nowhere and suddenly scripted and starred in a major hit. Good for him, even though he must have something of a sick mind to come up with this kind of story. Good twist towards the end, too. Not quite clear, though, but satisfying all the same. This is good, gut-wrenching, terrifying fun. NOT for the squeamish.
“There are rules.”
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Other reviews of Saw (2004): Morris