Director - James Wan
Year - (2004)

When I love a movie, I will talk and talk and talk about it until the point is made how great a movie is. When I hate it, my reviews are short and to the point. I should say that I loved Saw. But I cant write a long review about the greatness of the flick without delving into spoiler territory. With this movie, everything has to be fresh and unexpected, and me ruining even the smallest nuances of this film would be criminal. This is going to be a tough one to review, but Im going to try anyway.

Adam, played by Leigh Whannel, wakes up in a bad situation. Hes chained to a pipe in a small rundown bathroom. Chained to the opposite side, across from him is Dr. Lawrence Gordon, played by the sometimes-great Cary Elwes. Between them lies a man in a pool of blood, with a gunshot wound to the head, a revolver in one hand and a tape recorder in the other. After introductions are made and initial hysteria subsides, Adam and Dr. Gordon discover they each have a small cassette tape in their pockets. They play the tape and an evil, masked voice informs Dr. Gordon has eight hours to kill Adam or his family dies and his is left to rot. Despite being chained to the wall, clues are given to the trapped men, indicating that there are secrets in the room to help the Doctor accomplish his goal. Like some twisted version of Candid Camera, the two men now have to work together to figure out who did this to them, why and how theyre going to get out alive before times up. I know I said I wouldnt delve into spoilers, but all this has been merely the set up for the movie, and its only about 15 minutes in.

First off, the non-linear story telling works. Not in mixed chapters like Kill Bill or Pulp Fiction, Saw jumps back and forth between the immediate story of the two men, their lives, the previous crimes of Jigsaw, and the cop whos hot in his trail, played by Danny Glover.
The appeal of this movie will hit most with those who appreciate a good kill. Horror hounds and gore fanatics will love the brutality in which Jigsaw dispatches his victims, however, true horror aficionados will love the amazing creativity and planning that goes into each set up. Jigsaw is one diabolical bastard, and Leigh Whannell, who also wrote the movie, manages to come up with death traps and situations that Ive never seen in a movie before. From the trailers, no doubt, youve seen the Jaw Trap which is on a timer set to explode some poor girls head, but that is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Theres also a lot of sub-text in this movie. Much like John Doe from Seven, or the Unnamed Caller from Phone Booth, Jigsaw chooses his victims according to their crimes. According to Jigsaw, however, the crime involves ones un-appreciation for his own life, whether it is a suicidal man or a junkie. Much of the meat of the story comes from Adam and Dr. Gordon figuring why they were chosen to be in Jigsaw's next piece.

Meanwhile, the performances are great. Leigh Whannel, who could be the next great import from Australia, not only is a sarcastic little punk, but when the need arises, you believe the fear and hysteria. Also, great mention has to go to Cary Elwes. To me, his best work is always going to be Robin Hood: Men In Tights, or The Princess Bride. He played the snooty yet charismatic British guy well enough. In Saw, he plays a well off Doctor, who is great to have in a dangerous situation, at first. He embodies calm and collected for the first half of the flick, but as the deadline looms for his family, slowly but surely, the good Dr. begins to un-spool. It's great to watch. Lastly, the minor characters of Danny Glover, as the obsessed cop, channeling a gruffer Murtaugh, and Monica Potter as Elwes' unhappy housewife, both do well enough with the small amount of screen time they're given. Lastly, first time Director James Wan knows how to make an atmospheric movie. Granted, most of the film takes place in a frenzied music video kind of tone, but with most of the characters minutes away from dying, the rushed, panic feel fits perfectly.

All together, Saw adds up to what you get when you have a great, original idea, and the budget to back it up. Much like Seven, my favorite thriller of all time, you've got characters you can empathize with, some truly disturbing imagery, and a psycho killer who actually makes sense. That in itself is a little scary. I know I said this with Shaun of the Dead, but there hasn't been a flick like Saw in a long time. See this movie.

Reviewed By - Evil Ash

Rating ( 4 of 5 )



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