It seems that you can't put a good man down, or in this case, you can't put a stop to a popular franchise, and should milk it for all its worth until the returns cannot justify another box office comeback. Many Halloweens ago, we got floored by something so gory but yet so innovative in its presentation, that it started a slew of torture porn movies capitalizing on the mantra of the bloodier and gorier, the better. There were some hits and misses of course, but for all it's worth, the Saw movies so far have managed to pull off sucker punch after sucker punch in its finale despite the meat of the plot just chugging along with some difficultly in reaching its end point.
Production designer on the previous Saw movies, David Hackl, takes over the director's chair to steer this franchise into a new direction. Reportedly the beginning of another set of trilogy films, Saw V has all the trappings and pitfalls in being the seed for that tangent in direction, and also of the dawn of a new Jigsaw, sort of. But the question is what would happen to THE Jigsaw that we have grown fond of, that Tobin Bell had played to perfection, personifying that sick moral judgement in his games to his victims?
I suppose Jigsaw has cemented its cinematic pedigree in being one of the most memorable screen villains of today, and undoubtedly without Bell's portrayal, it's anyone's guess how this movie would perform. Granted that we all know what happened to him in Saw IV, this installment still doesn't quite manage to fly on its own without his participation, and relies on a series of flashbacks so that our beloved actor and character could grace the screen one last time. I say last, because if he were to return for the next movie (if it does get made), then truly something is really wrong and it will reek of desperation and the lack of courage to venture forward. Just like how the Terminator franchise is now forging ahead without Schwarzeneggar's participation, though of course having Christian Bale step in is reason enough to believe that the movies should do relatively well (I hope, since I'm counting the chickens before they hatch).
Continuing where the previous installment left off, I'm still quite amazed at how the scriptwriters manage to weave in a plot that goes as far back as they could, and still make it work rather well. I won't give away anything here, but suffice to say that it's yet another cop versus cop thing, and about man's stubbornness and obsession to dig at the truth that fuels the bulk of the story, and of course, leading them straight into the ploy of Jigsaw, with its infamous tape players still around to play Tobin Bell's voice, albeit a little too convenient a grand plan to have things fall into place so nicely.
Pre-requisite knowledge of the earlier films is a must, so don't go at this blind. As the story develops, it goes back to some of the classic scenes that were featured in the earlier movies, so it becomes somewhat deja-vu, or even cheated in a way to have watch the same execution perform twice, although from different points of view. The only plus point here, and it appeals to purists, completists and fanboys, is to dig at the motivation and rationale, as we have Jigsaw explaining a little bit more on what his diabolical plots want to achieve. Otherwise, it will seem more or less like the second movie, with yet another big group of potential victims put together in seemingly random fashion, to try and survive a series of torture traps to see who can make it out in the end.
So is Saw V any good? If you're a fan of the series, then I'm pretty sure you would place your bum in the cinema no matter what anyone tells you, and want to judge for yourself. So for those out there under this category, just remember that this episode probably marks the start of a new direction, leaving behind the old when it's done. For those who have not watched any of the Saw movies to date, then there's only one thing to do, and that's to get your hands on the first, and start from there.