Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), the mastermind behind a series of life and death games, has escaped from the police. But he's now dying so his punk sidekick Amanda kidnaps brilliant surgeon, Dr Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soometh) to keep him alive until one last game is enacted.
Jeff (Angus MacFadyen) is chosen for this grisly game. He wants revenge for the death of his son, so Jigsaw gives him his chance to forgive or to let his victims become gory croppers.
If we lived in a nicer world where the film industry was all cuddly and warm, the makers of Saw would have been congratulated for earning the studios loads of money. Then they would have got extra hugs and cuddles for making even more money with Saw II.
After that, in this better world, the industry moguls would have said: “Thanks guys, you’ve done a great job. You must be tired after all that hard work. Take some time out with your families and have a bit of a rest”.
Instead, in the real world, we get Saw III that's looking a touch over-tired compared to its inventive predecessors.
The movie, like the others, is an elaborate game where Jigsaw has devised a series of sadistic tests to teach his victims that they should learn lessons about life – in this case, forgiveness and loyalty in marriage. There’s the same emphasis on Jigsaw’s puritanical moralising, which is really just an excuse for scenes of torture and body crunching.
In a better world, of course, no one would want to see films where sadists look for intriguing ways of amputating limbs with everyday industrial hardware. We get what we deserve, I guess.
The makers of Saw III are kindly souls though. They must have noticed that Tobin Bell was feeling tired after his previous two outings as the sinister Jigsaw so he spends the new movie lying in bed with a terminal brain tumour.
Being terminally ill, he doesn’t have to use much energy in the dialogue either so we have to strain our ears to hear his croaky whisper spinning out the details of his dastardly plot.
Angus McFadyen, as vengeful dad Jeff, certainly doesn’t need any rest. Now more of a Luciano Pavarotti lookalike than a pin up, he waddles through the film as if he’s looking for the next pork pie. The director should have done a “celebrity fat club” on him and got him to put a bit of energy in his performance. It would do him the power of good. As it is, you sure wouldn’t want him as the only person who could save your life.
The lifesaver is Dr Lynn, played by the beautiful Bahar Soometh who, even when she’s having a bad hair day, can look sexy whilst putting all her energy into screaming and shouting.
It's strange how screaming loses its drama after a few sustained bursts. Sympathy rapidly changes to an overwhelming wish to tell her to shut up. Luckily, she calms down when she’s forced to do open brain surgery with an explosive device around her neck.
Director Darren Bousman is tireless in his pursuit of tension and whenever it begins to sag, usually when Angus McFadyen is on screen, he is quick to insert some subliminal images of horror with added screechy sound effects.
It is good to see Shawnee Smith return as the “weirdo” junky Amanda. Hers is by far the most interesting character in the film – filled with contradictions and tensions unresolved. She brings plenty of menace with her sudden changes of mood as well as pathos in her private moments of despair.
Billed as the “extreme edition” this DVD release only actually boasts about 60 seconds of extra blood curdling footage, which suggests that the “extreme” tag must be describing the inclusion of not one but three, yes three, audio commentaries.
Director Darren Lynn Bousman teams up with producers, writers and even the director of photography to talk us through the action, bizarrely, none of the cast members are asked to participate in the banter. Elsewhere Bousman provides a tedious behind the scenes video diary - which doesn’t actually include footage from any of the big set pieces in the movie - writer Leigh Whannell talks us through “The Traps Of Saw III” in a lively featurette, and there are a few deleted scenes which should keep obsessive fans happy.
After a while it’s obvious that this story is not worth the bother, especially if you haven’t seen the previous films. It’s just a matter of sitting back and, err, enjoying the blood.
The movie certainly scores its best moments when the lovely surgeon gets to work – if you hide behind the sofa when the theme tune to Animal Hospital comes on then Saw III is not for you.
So let’s not knock the movie too much because it does what it says on the box. Let’s face it, you won’t be going because you like some cerebral content in your entertainment. The only brains here are seeping through someone's head.
Staring: Tobin Bell, Bahar Soometh, Angus MacFadyen
Directed by: Darren Bousman
Extras: Commentary with Director Darren Lynn Bousman, Writer/ Executive Producer Leigh Whannell and Executive Producers Peter Block and Jason Constantine, Audio commentary with Producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg, Audio commentary with Director Darren Lynn Bousman, Editor Kevin Greutert and Director of Photography David A Armstrong, The Traps of Saw III, Details of Death: The props of Saw III, Darren's Diary: Anatomy of a Director, Deleted scenes, Teaser & Theatrical Trailers