Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Saw IV (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

Following this clue to a map in the classroom, Rigg finds a box with his next destination: go home. Only the “G” in “go” is written in a specialized font that matches the same lettering used in one of Jigsaw's properties, the Gideon Meatpacking Plant.  Hmm, you think the second the police got his name they would have started searching all the properties registered to his name.  You know, just in case he might have had a hidden base there or something.  A quick montage of the various traps used in the movie shows them branded with the telltale letter. Instead of helping Morgan, Rigg simply hands her Jigsaw's key and tells her she has to save herself. He leaves, pulling the fire alarm on his way out.

This draws Strahm and team, constantly one step behind it seems. Perez gets a call where she learns all of tonight's victims were all represented by Art Blank at one point of their lives, who also JUST HAPPENS to be Jill's lawyer. Wow, there are a lot of elements in play right now. It's gonna take a HELL of a montage to tie all this together smoothly. The reveals keep coming though as Perez finds out Jill also owns the school, leading to her and Strahm searching the rest of it.

In an office they find a Billy puppet with a note and a tape player on his- and you know what? How come they never tried tracing the guy who's buying thirty million tape players in the city? This film was made in 2007, when digital recorders were long since the norm so this outdated technology would be bound to stand out when it's being sold by the pallet load, wouldn't you think? Anyway, Perez reaches out and hits play like the genius she is. Good thing that doll wasn't a pressure sensitive explosive or anything! I love how all these highly trained professionals can't grasp the concept of securing a crime scene first.

“Hello Agent Perez, and welcome to the world that you have long studied. Your partner Agent Strahm will soon take the life of an innocent man. Heed my warning Agent Perez, your next move is critical.”. Billy starts whispering “open the door” but it's so quiet that Perez can't hear it so she leans in all niiiiiiice and cloooose, just in time for Billy's face to explode and drive shrapnel through her face. Strahm calls the paramedics and they take her away, Perez handing him Morgan's key before she's taken to the ambulance.

With nineteen minutes remaining on the clock, Art looks at a piece of paper with his instructions and hands Matthews a gun and a bullet. With time running short the pace is starting to pick back up, as is my interest finally. An enraged Strahm goes back to Jill, going major bad cop on her as his sanity is also beginning to slip. He demands to know what the deal with Art is, leading to flashback number one zillion. John and Art were partners in a big deal to build a series of apartments, but John has absolutely fallen apart after Gideon's death and is no longer honouring his end of the agreement. This... adds nothing to the movie and doesn't even answer Strahm's question so Jill skips ahead to after John's suicide attempt as seen in the last movie.

She tracks him down at one of his eighty factories, finding surveillance photos of Cecil along with sketches of ominous looking traps. She confronts him over this, John going into his own flashback of kidnapping the drug addict. At this rate, this movie is officially going to have more layers than Inception. Hell, maybe this is a prequel to that because it would actually explain some of the bigger plotholes in this thing...

Cecil gets chosen for the honour of being in Jigsaw's first ever trap: the Knife Chair. He finds himself bound to a chair with sharp restraints cutting open his wrists and ankles, in order to free himself he has to push his face through a harness of vicious looking knives that'll unlock his restraints. He actually manages to do it and frees himself, leaping at John to attack him but misses and winds up in a cage of razor wire. OUCH!

The flashbacks end, Strahm doing that magic thing that only people in the movies can do where they looks at photos they've already seen a million times but THIS time pick out an important detail. He makes the connection between John and the Gideon Meatpacking Plant, rushing off like a bat out of hell. The plant is about to become a very popular destination, as Rigg arrives outside. Inside, Art and Matthews come to the realization that the entrance to the room has some kind of crazy trap attached to it, Art commenting he hopes Rigg doesn't try to come through the door.

Entering the building, Rigg finds an empty box with no note in it. This will look very familiar if you watched the last film, because he's now retracing Jeff's steps. Strahm pulls up outside in his car, having brought NO ONE ELSE WITH HIM. Holy shit, the Idiot Balls are flying around in this one like a freaking tennis match. As he approaches the door, the agent pulls out his cellphone and calls in back up. WHY THE FUCK DIDN'T YOU DO THIS ON THE WAY?!? Or shoot, how about when you were at the station SURROUNDED BY ARMED POLICE OFFICERS?!? I'm seriously starting to doubt this guy is an FBI agent.

With less than four minutes to go, Art takes off his coat to reveal a strange device attached to his back. Flashback jillion shows him right after surviving his test, finding an envelope and the customary tape player. We don't get to hear what it says as we go back to Rigg, Strahm, and Jeff wandering the factory, pistols at the ready. Wait, what? FUCKING JEFF?!? This whole movie has been taking place concurrently with Saw III! Save your questions for the end please, we'll get to this mindfuck then.

The end of the last movie plays out again while Art brings out a device he says will release all three men in the room when the timer is up. Strahm enters the room outside of Jigsaw's makeshift hospital room, hearing the aftermath of Lynn's shotgun collar exploding.  Rigg makes his way to the fateful door, kicking his way in despite Matthews screaming for him to stop. Matthews uses the single bullet in his gun to shoot him to try to stop him but his too late as the door goes flying open and springs the trap. Two giant blocks of ice descend from either side of the room and crush Matthews' head like a grape. Rigg, doubled over from the bullet's impact, is still able to shoot Art as he was advancing on him. Hoffman looks fearful as his trap begins to fire up...

Strahm is unable to enter the next room as the door sealed shut, but luckily he has the key Perez gave him so he opens it. Inside Jeff screams at him about Corbett and draws his gun, Strahm forced to shoot him dead in perceived self defense (Jeff used his one bullet on Amanda, but Strahm would have no way of knowing this). Again, please hold the questions for the end of the presentation.  Rigg and Art lie gutshot on the ground, Rigg blaming Art for all of this. Art tries to tell him this was all part of Jigsaw's test, taking out his tape player but Rigg headshots him as he thought he was going for a weapon.

“Hello Officer Rigg, if you are hearing this then you have reached Detective Matthews and Detective Hoffman in under 90 minutes, resulting in their deaths. The rules were clear, you were warned. They had to save themselves. Their salvation was out of your hands. Time was on your side, but your obsession wouldn't let you wait. Instead of saving Detective Matthews, you cost him his life. You failed your final test.”.

Rigg tries to pull himself to his feet as HOFFMAN walks up behind him, hopefully surprising NONE OF YOU. Montagevision kicks in to explain all this, as we see it was indeed Hoffman that wrote the letter for Amanda. Hoffman and Rigg simply look at each other, Hoffman finally leaving but not before dropping the movie ending “Game over” line.  Oh spoke too soon, we still have Strahm knee deep in the dead. Hoffman closes the door again and seals him in as we come full circle to the morgue, revealing all of this took place BEFORE the morgue scene that opened the film as Hoffman listens to the tape intended for him.

“You feel you now have control, don't you? You think you will walk away untested? I promise that my work will continue, that I have ensured. By hearing this tape some will assume that this is over, but I am still among you. You think it's over just because I am dead? It's not over. The games have just begun.”.

Cue the credits.

BLOODY BLOODY HELL, there was more going on in this movie than all four Transformers movies combined and then multiplied by ten. Let's just lay it all out in chronological order before going in deep:

-At some point Hoffman becomes an apprentice of Jigsaw, just like Amanda did, helping to orchestrate the events of at least the past two movies. His unlimited access to police resources GREATLY explains how Jigsaw was able to find out things I previously bitched about in those movies, so job well done there movie! Although, this STILL doesn't explain how Jigsaw would have known about Danica failing to report what he saw because there wouldn't have been a police record of that.

-Shortly after Saw II, Amanda tries to kill Matthews in the bathroom hallway. Jigsaw somehow finds out about this and has Hoffman rescue the detective, keeping him alive in a different room hidden from Amanda.

-Six months later, Saw III begins with Hoffman assisting Amanda in capturing Detective Kerry and placing her in an inescapable trap. I'm assuming he knew about the trap being rigged based off his comment about how it was built for her execution. Kerry was a threat to him, so he didn't step in to save her life.

-Jigsaw's end game was to test BOTH of his apprentices, leading to the events of III and IV which took place at almost the exact same time. III was Amanda's test while IV began Hoffman's test, although we won't see what that is until the next movie.

-Hoffman uses Kerry's death to his advantage, as he knew she was the FBI's liaison and that they would get involved. He ensures this by planting a bullet casing with Rigg's fingerprint near Kerry's body to keep them suspicious of the SWAT leader, which is VITAL to the plan he's scheming on.

-While this is going on, Jigsaw's plan gets underway as he has Amanda kidnap Lynn to help keep him alive as well as being a key cog in his test of his female protege. Detective Fisk reports this to Hoffman, who says he'll look into it when in reality he knows who took her and where she is.

-Amanda next kidnaps Jeff and his daughter Corbett, bringing them to Jigsaw's base of operations, the Gideon Meatpacking Plant. Jeff is given two hours to make it through the building and pass his test, involving facing and forgiving the man who accidentally killed his son Dylan.

-While this is going on, Hoffman begins his own game as he's targeted Rigg to become his own apprentice. Hoffman forces lawyer Art Blank to help set up Rigg's test, making Art think its the actual Jigsaw ordering him around. Part of this involves setting up his own kidnapping, Art not knowing he was capturing his own boss. I can only assume Jigsaw knew about ALL of this but let it go on because it posed no threat to his test of Amanda since he can see the future. Because seriously, any slight deviation in Hoffman's plan could have totally screwed up Jigsaw's.

-Half an hour after Jeff's test starts, Rigg's own trial begins as he only has ninety minutes to make it through his. Again, remember the whole point of Jeff's test is actually to test Amanda, which involves him anticipating Jeff's actions to an absolute flawless degree with almost no room for error.

-This is a tangent here, but this actually exposes one of the biggest flaws in the series: if Jigsaw is THAT good at predicting human nature he has to know almost no one will EVER pass his games. Hell, he had to rig the Nerve Gas House in II because Xavier was well on his way to winning it. He all know Jigsaw is a psychopath, but things like this expose him as a gigantic hypocrite and not the noble saviour he likes to portray himself as.

-Anyway, Jigsaw knows Jeff and, in turn, Amanda will fail their tests. This doesn't seem to bother him since he “despises murders” (despite TOTALLY BEING ONE HIMSELF) and takes no action to prevent Amanda's death.

-Hoffman, also a murderer, plays off all this in his game as he also knows Jeff and Amanda will fail. He ties this to Rigg's trial, and HOLY SHIT does he out-Jigsaw Jigsaw here. I cannot stress this enough how ridiculous the timing works out here because Hoffman's plan involves juggling two completely separate storylines. Rigg's is silly enough because there's dozens of things that could have interfered with him getting to the plant in time (TRAFFIC MUCH?), but Strahm's... holy shit.

-Hoffman must have pulled Strahm's FBI psychological profile and committed it to memory, because he knows this man down to his bone marrow. He knows Strahm will follow the bread crumb trail to the school, leading to Perez getting gravely wounded by an exploding Billy. Hoffman knows Perez pretty fucking good as well, as he's able to anticipate her being just conscious enough after nearly dying to give Strahm the key to the plant.

-The next major example of Hoffman's psychic abilities is knowing Strahm will return to Jill to get the location of the plant (which also means he knows Jill well enough to the exact perfect moment for her to divulge the address) and then TOTALLY DISREGARD PROTOCOL by going there alone.

-Everything happens perfectly, Jeff kills Amanda and Jigsaw which in turn kills Lynn. Strahm appears right on cue to kill him, just as Hoffman magically foresaw, and gets sealed in the medical room. Rigg fails his test which leads to everyone else dying, Hoffman outing himself as the next Jigsaw.

-This is where things start getting complicated. Jigsaw figured Jeff would fail his test so he set up another game involving him having to rescue his daughter, but we STILL haven't got to see what that was going to be and at this point, I'm thinking we never will. This leaves Corbett's whole plot dangling, but it's safe to say the scene with Hoffman carrying a stuffed animal indicates it was mean for her. But seeing as we still have three movies left, I'm guessing this will be addressed.

-There's also the autopsy scene, which clearly takes place AFTER everything else we've seen. Jigsaw's body has been transported from the sealed room to the morgue, which means either Strahm escaped or Hoffman came back to kill him. Again, the next movie will explain all this.

One thing the next movie won't explain is something I ranted about at the beginning of this review: HOW DID THE FBI KNOW AMANDA WAS WORKING WITH JIGSAW?!? Originally it seemed like they would have figured this out since her body was found next to her mentor, but since the autopsy wasn't shown in chronological order to trick us, there is absolutely no way they could have known this.

The screenwriters got so caught trying to be clever and trick us that I think even THEY got confused by the continuity of this whole movie. You COULD make the case the feds learned about Amanda from Daniel Matthews (remember him?), but since we never saw what happened to him after the end of II it's up in the air if even he knew that she was in on everything. This isn't a movie destroying plothole, but it does really stand out in a series that is shockingly crafted around a pretty solid timeline.

PHEW! I need a nap after all of that. I never thought a movie that's essentially about idiots winding up in sadistic traps would turn out to be the most complicated movie I've reviewed to date. But, most importantly, it was a much better movie than the last one. Far from great, but a good movie nonetheless despite how much it drags towards the middle.

I was disappointed that Rigg really wasn't the focus of the movie like advertised, instead turning out to be the worst part of the film. His scenes really didn't add anything to the story, and he got almost no chances for character moments besides standing around looking pained.  Lyriq Bent was, once again, totally wasted which is a crime worthy of winding up in a Jigsaw trap.  This man is an excellent actor and deserved better, especially in his series swansong.  That makes me a very sad panda zombie.  Strahm was the true star of the movie, as he was being groomed to become the next lead of the series. He was bland but serviceable, established as an intelligent foil for the mastermind that is Jigsaw. Y'know, something Kerry SHOULD HAVE BEEN. And I should amend that by saying semi-intelligent, because going to the plant without backup is unforgivable.
We also have our new Jigsaw, who seems decent thus far but pales SO MUCH to the human acting clinic that is Tobin Bell.  They telegraphed him being a villain far too much in my opinion, as his reveal was not even remotely a surprise if you were even half paying attention. The attempt to recreate the shock twist of the first film fell quite flat here.

Which brings us to what I thought was the film's REAL twist: that this took place parallel to III. I thought this was brilliant and it drew a WAY bigger reaction from the theater I saw this in than Hoffman's true colours. The second Jeff showed up on the screen drew a huge gasp from everyone, because no one saw this coming. And yet it WAS properly set up with that brief line about Lynn going missing, something easily missed the first time watching this. Textbook example of how all plot twists should be done, a little clue early on that is rewarding on repeated viewings.

That's pretty much all there is to say about Saw IV, a largely entertaining film with an amazingly complex story handled much better than your average movie would juggle so many plot threads. Sadly I wish I could say this was the end of the Saw saga, because it CERTAINLY would have gone in the history books remembered much better than it currently is. The franchise pretty much goes off the cliff from here on out, as you'll see with the next chapter of Jigsaw's twisted tale.

Read about the freefall here!