johnlink ranks SAW II (2005)

So what better way to follow up SAW than with SAW II. That’s logical, right? For the record, these are the only two SAW movies I’ve seen all the way through. I must admit that I watched pieces of several others in my years working at the movie theater, but these first two are the only ones that I can say that I ‘saw’ before.


I watched SAW II (2005) on 9.26.15. It was my second viewing of this film, and first since probably 2006 or so.

While the original SAW is a true stand alone film despite what it promises for its offspring, SAW II is a true sequel. Much like the FRIDAY THE 13th series, this is the movie in which we finally get to truly meet our villain of the hour, Jigsaw (Tobin Bell). Sure, he appeared and was present through the first film, but his need to surprise led him to appear sporadically. It is this film where we really get to know him.

As it turns out, Jigsaw is terminally ill and doesn’t care wether or not he dies. That makes for a bulletproof villain. While this film  moves the goalposts on the villain (not to spoil anything), we do mostly abandon the gimmick of the clown doll in favor of a more human face. Tobin Bell plays Jigsaw with the proper level of indifference and intensity. His masterminding of the entire ordeal may feel overwritten at times, but Bell never plays it as such.

The hero of this film is officer Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg). The victims of Jigsaw’s trap include Matthews’ son, Daniel (Erik Knudsen). He and a bunch of other people are trapped in a less-than-fun house. They have just three hours to escape, and very few antidotes available to extend that time. Those antidotes prove to be McGuffins as the writers use them as a way to move characters form scenario to scenario.

It is in that house that this feels like a sequel. A pseudo villain, Xavier (Franky G) is reveled early, while a bunch of other people of varying goodness try to survive. In terms of performance, the best of these turns out to be Glenn Plummer as Jonas. For me, Plummer will always be known as the guy who’s car was stolen by Keanu in SPEED. But he gives a good performance here as a guy just trying to make it through this hell house.

The bits are increased a bunch. This is not a movie which takes the car of the first SAW. It is not concerned with nuance. Instead, it bulls from one moment to another. While it all leads to a tidy and buttoned-up ending, the journey isn’t quite as fulfilling in terms of its cinematic value. The way this movie connects to the first one, though, shows a bit of forward thought that would be the lifeblood of the series going forward.

SAW II, then, is a perfectly acceptable sequel in a horror franchise. It ups the gore (unnecessarily), it ups the body count, and it lowers the intelligence factor. Nothing wrong here, nothing too spectacular.




FINAL SCORE: 5.75 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on September 26, 2015.

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