Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Saw VI (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

Jenkins arrives at Jill's apartment thanks to a note from Hoffman, Jill not pleased to see the reporter. Jenkins hands her a letter that was taken from the plant where Jigsaw died, which I think is supposed to be Amanda's letter from Saw III but it looks a lot bigger so I'm not sure. Jill shuts the door in her face, Jenkins returning to the elevator and becoming the next to fall to Pig Mask. I'm guessing her crime is going to be putting her recyclables in with her regular garbage.

Easton makes his way through whatever building he's is, using a key he found to remove one of his explosive shackles. Under one of them he finds “The party” tattooed on his arm, which begins a flashback of a party he hosted for Jill's clinic back in happier times. He gets into a conversation with John, getting a lecture about the power a person can unleash when their life is on the line, the will to live. Yes movie, WE GET IT.

The next trial involves Easton having to choose saving the life of one person: a young healthy man with no relatives or an older sick woman with a family. I'm sure the key scene of what horrible and godless acts these two victims did to wind up in such a situation was cut for running time, because otherwise this is totally fucked up. Easton screams out he won't make such a choice, but we see they're going to BOTH die if he doesn't.

Reduced to tears, Easton saves the older woman and lets the young man die. Hopefully this will bring closure to the busload of nurses he murdered and got away with. In the room next to Tara and Brent we see Jenkins yelling for help, her cage also containing an acid vat. She finds a tape player next to hers, Jigsaw berating her for twisting his message to sell papers. Back in his war room Hoffman starts pinning the pictures from all the envelopes to a Wall of Crazy when he gets a call from Erickson, asking him to hurry over for a face to face meeting.

Keeping the nine million subplots in motion, we see Jill go the hospital with the smaller envelope in her hand. As she stares at a door she has a flashback of Hoffman setting up Timothy Young in the Rack while discussing things with Jigsaw and Amanda. Jill shows up, which makes me wonder how she could have known about any of that since she wasn't there, but whatever. Jill begs Jigsaw to stop, but he assures her when his work is done he has a way out for her. He hands her a key, telling her when the time is right she'll know what to do with it. This is the key she used to open his box of mysteries.

Returning to the present she places the envelope into the mail slot of the door, but we don't get to see whom the door belongs to. Hmm, what people in these movies have we seen that work at a hospital?  Easton's turn comes up in the Subplot Tilt-A-Whirl, taking off his next shackle to find “Final decision” underneath. Another flashback follows as we see Jigsaw found a hopeful treatment for his cancer but Easton turned down his request for coverage. THAT was a brilliant decision that totally will never come back to haunt you, Mr. Easton. I'm sick and tired of the flashbacks already, but I'll give this one a total pass because Tobin Bell acted his fucking ass off in this one despite this being a VERY transparent soapbox speech about the health care system.

The third test involves Easton trying to guide a lawyer named Debbie from his company through a hazardous steam-based maze in under ninety seconds before her trap kills her, which actually is pretty exciting. Again, just like with the janitor the Unrated cut deletes a flashback shot establishing her identity. At the end Debbie finds an x-ray showing the key to her trap is sewn into Easton's side, so she grabs a helpfully placed buzzsaw to cut it out. He fights her off, yelling he can get the key out himself but it's too late as her trap goes off and shoots her in the head. Well, they can't all be successes I guess.

As Easton grabs his third key, we go back to Jill who is going through the Box of Mysteries again. She takes out a taser along with the sixth envelope, which she must have forgotten to give Hoffman right?! Anyway, for some reason Easton doesn't make off his third shackle upon getting the key. Maybe the movie is out of flashback budget? That hazy filter they put on the cameras can't be cheap after all.
The next trap involves six of his associates chained to a merry-go-round, a shotgun loaded with six rounds threatening to kill all of them unless Easton pushes two buttons housed inside of a sharp looking device. He can only save two of them, and has to make his choice before the gun kills everyone.  His indecision leads to the death of the first, causing everyone to start shouting out the reasons they should be saved. Easton decides to save two of the women as a blade pierces his hand each time he presses the buttons, giving him literal blood on his hands.

Gotta admit, this was another very well done scene with great acting all around. It's bizarre, but this movie is starting to get good. Hoffman meets with Erickson and Perez, who have a tech working on unscrambling the voice on the Seth Baxter tape. Perez and Erickson, who TOTALLY know it's Hoffman, subtly taunt him as the recording begins to grow closer and closer to his voice as the dramatic music raaaaaaaaatches up... leading to Hoffman pulling out a knife and slitting Erickson's fucking throat! DAYMN!

Perez pulls her gun but Hoffman throws hot coffee in her face, taking the distraction to grab the tech and use her as a human shield as Perez unloads round after round into her back. Hoffman leaps at Perez and stabs her like it's going out of style, dropping his knife and calmly walking out of the room. He goes to his car trunk and retrieves the remains of Strahm's hand (that he used to plant his fingerprints on Eddie's body) along with a can of gasoline and gets to work trying to cover his tracks.

Jill arrives at Hoffman's base, looking at the monitors of the latest game. She places the letter Jenkins gave her on the desk as Hoffman pulls up outside, although I once again question if these events are happening at the same time or not based off the past... well, five movies. With under two minutes remaining, Brent finally decides to pull the lever. He does so, but nothing happens. Hoffman enters the monitor room to see the note, as we FINALLY get to read it after three movies:

You were with Cecil the night Jill lost Gideon. You killed their child. You know it and I know it, so do exactly as I say: kill Lynn Denlon or I will tell John what you did.

Oh ho, PLOT TWIST! A quick flashback of Amanda forcing Cecil to break into the clinic that fateful night follows, as Cecil was against the idea the entire time. The theatrical cut deletes a lot of this, while the Unrated cut makes it very clear Amanda and Cecil were in a relationship. Let's just put this on the back burner because there's way too much other shit going on right now. Hoffman is drawn out of his memories by the door flying open and Jill tasing his ass into unconsciousness, because it is OFFICIALLY on now. The theatrical cut had a close up of her holding the taser just so we could make sure what it was, because when she took it out of the box it kind of looked like a phone. The Unrated cut forced you to rewind to the box scene just to make sure what the item was.

Easton runs through a door with a second to spare on the timer, finding himself in the cage room with Jenkins on one side and Tara and Brent on the other. We learn Jenkins is his sister, and that Tara and Brent are actually the family of a man Easton declined a life-saving insurance policy to in the beginning of the film. John's recording resumes playing and lays out the final test: Tara has to decide if she wants to save the life of the man who let her husband die.

Meanwhile Jill has tied Hoffman to the chair and takes out something else from the Box Of Continuing Mysteries: a reverse bear trap. She attaches it to Hoffman's head, locking it on all nice and secure. Easton and Jenkins beg Tara for forgiveness, but she ignores them and goes to move the lever to “die” because she can't let Easton do to anyone else what he did to her family. But she finds she can't bring herself to do it, but Brent sure as shit can and pulls the lever.

This not only causes a bed of spikes to swing down from the ceiling and impale Easton, but it also begins the timer on Hoffman's trap at sixty seconds. The theatrical cut had Jill start the timer herself, keeping it separate from William's trial. But wait, those aren't just any regular spikes: they're also attached to the vats in the cages by tubes and begin pumping Easton's body full of acid! They're REALLY pulling out all the stops for this one, aren't they?

Jill drops the “game over” catchphrase and leaves Hoffman to his fate. This ain't his first barbeque though, as he begin smashing his hand with his headgear so he can slide it out of his restraints. Unable to remove the trap he wedges it between the bars on the door so they stop it from ripping his head in half when it goes off, which is FUCKING AMAZING. He's able to slide his head out though does completely tear open half of his face in the process, but I guess that's all part of this lesson three movies in the making. He sinks to his knees and screams in pure, unadulterated agony as we fade to black.

Cue the credits. For the first time ever we get a post-credits stinger as we get a flashback from III. Amanda, in tears after reading Hoffman's letter, looking through a keyhole into the room where Corbett Denlon is being held prisoner. She tells the little girl not to trust the one who saves her, which segues to the girl looking at Hoffman as he carries her out of the meatpacking plant. This stinger was not shown in theaters, which may or may not be a big deal depending on how the next movie goes.

Hey, remember Brit and Mallick from the last movie?  Was there a point to any of that, since this film didn't even MENTION them once?

Critically, Saw VI is the most positively reviewed movie of the series after the first one and I can absolutely see why. After the very keen move of letting us get to know what an asshole our protagonist was going to be before he wound up in the game, this movie went downhill pretty fast but MORE than made up for it with an excellent second half.

Setting aside the writing and concepts of this movie, one of the biggest improvements was the visuals. This series has always had ONE style: bland and dark. The majority of these stories took place in dark warehouses and factories devoid of any kind of physical style save extremely washed out colour palettes. This was thanks to director Kevin Greutert, who very much wanted the movie to improve on its drab style. The traps were also much more dynamic and interesting, especially the the steam maze which is my favourite of the series. It was nice to see some traps that were actually traps and not just mindless torture porn devices.

The acting was largely improved as well, it was a wise idea to ditch the dead weight the series had accumulated and put this in the capable hands of Bell, Russell, and Outerbridge. I want to single out Outerbridge in particular, because for once we finally got to see a victim feel remorse for his past and try to redeem himself. Note how this was done by NOT making him mangle himself but by putting him in dire situations that were almost entirely psychological to make him reflect upon his sins. You know, EXACTLY like I talked about earlier?

So what didn't work in this movie, besides the first half? Remember in my Star Trek: Into Darkness review where I was highly put off by the repeated and clumsy attempts at social commentary? Replace that with film's ramblings on terrorism and security with the health care crisis and you have Saw VI. The story spends A LOT of time bashing you over the head with how unfair the insurance companies are, including the aforementioned flashback scene where Jigsaw rants on these business practices for several minutes.

Is a fucking SAW MOVIE the place for topical ruminations about current political issues? On top of that, are they sure they wanted a psychotic serial killer as the mouthpiece for health care reform? That's kind of shooting yourself in the foot before you even step onto your soapbox. It's fairly obvious screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan see Jigsaw as somewhat a good guy in all of this, which his ironic considering he's at his most monstrous in this particular round of murdering.

I SUPPOSE you could make a (slight) case for the people on the shotgun carousel trap, since they were Easton's legal team with the sole job of denying Umbrella Health's customers life saving insurance claims. But the secretary and the file clerk in the gallows trap? Come on. They're as innocent as the sky is blue, simply working for a shady corporation in such a limited role does not put them on the same level as Cecil Adams or Timothy Young.

Despite these sticking points, at least it's all thought provoking which is something you can't say about ANY of the previous four films. It's a great feeling to have a Saw movie stay with you after you've seen it, and not just because you were grossed out and don't feel like eating for a couple of days. This ended up being the best movie since the first one, it's just a shame Saw V alienated so many people from seeing it.

How does the Saw saga end? Click here to find out!