This is rather faint praise, but Saw V is an improvement over the cluttered experience that was Saw IV. We still get backstories that will seemingly never end. The loss of Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), even though he returns in flashbacks, finds screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan desperate to mine material. On the hand that isn’t severed, there’s some decent work by the supporting actors in the fifth edition. On the severed hand, our two leads carried over from the fourth edition are still a bore.
The Jigsaw Files keeps swinging along and here’s the first four if you didn’t catch them:
Saw V introduces its third director in David Hackl, who did production design and second unit work on episodes II-IV. Darren Lynn Bousman’s involvement in the series had seemingly ended but he is back behind the camera for the upcoming Spiral. Melton and Dunstan, who scripted the predecessor, are back.
It was at the conclusion of #4 that we learned Detective Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) was Jigsaw’s second accomplice to his wicked games. He’s taken center stage now as the hero who brought down Jiggy while FBI Agent Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson) suspects foul play. Naturally the departed mastermind has thought of a way to make Strahm look like the new villain.
In the meantime, the living and deceased co-conspirators have a new test. They have selected five strangers, picked to live in a dimly lit dungeon, work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite… and start getting real bloody. It’s up to them to figure out what they have in common while trying to maintain limb and life. Hint: the quintet probably have a criminal connection. This is where we find some decent performances from Julie Benz, Meagan Good and Greg Bryk as they try to avoid catastrophic countdowns. The whole subplot is a bit of a callback to Saw II and that’s not always a bad thing in this case.
Detective Hoffman’s backstory is a predictable one as to why he got mixed up with the non killing serial killer. This franchise seems hellbent on providing motivational recalls for all its offenders and at this point it’s mostly filler.
I am, quite frankly, struggling somewhat to add more about Saw V. As stated, it is less jumbled (and a tad less perverse) than what preceded it. The scenes with the five new contestants on this Real Stomach-Churning World have an occasional sharp energy. The Hoffman/Strahm dynamic remains considerably duller. And the fifth entry is overwhelmingly average.
The Jigsaw Files will continue with Saw VI (2009)…