Fourth installment in the popular 'Saw' franchise. Upon the news of Detective Kerry's murder, two seasoned FBI profilers, Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) and Agent Perez (Athene Karkanis) arrive at the depleted police precinct and help veteran Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) sift through Jigsaw's (Tobin Bell) latest grizzily game of victims and piece together the puzzle. But the SWAT Commander Rigg (Lyriq Bent), the only local officer who has yet to experience Jigsaw's handiwork, is suddenly abducted. Thrust into the madman's harrowing game, he has but 90 minutes to overcome a diabolical series of interconnected traps - or face the deadly consequences.
Now weve arrived at Saw 4
, its fair to suggest that most will be familiar with the conventions of the franchise. The dastardly, and really quite sick, Jigsaw (played, as usual, by Tobin Bell) has once again been devising a series of testing, intricate traps to test his human subjects, and naturally when these go off, theres a fair slice of the films budget set aside for the requisite blood and gore. If you werent already aware, Saw
films are absolutely not for the squeamish.
The twist with Saw 4 is that it digs into the backstory of Jigsaw, although its fair to say that it soon becomes a platform to layer on some more deadly traps. Mixing in flashbacks and present day events, the formula is ultimately well worn and well obeyed. Surprises are in short supply, even if there is the odd jump from time to time.
There is a law of diminishing returns with Saw 4, however, and as the franchise matures the tricks because less impressive and the blood and guts quotient increases to compensate. Furthermore, director Darren Lynn Bousman occasionally goes overboard with his flash cuts, proving a distraction from the carefully constructed scenarios that were the trademark of the original.
Still, criticisms aside, Saw 4 is here to do a job, and it has little qualms about getting on with it. Firmly made in the more of the same mould of sequels, its compact, grisly and absolutely not the last film in the series. It might not be ambitious, but you cant deny its not good at its job. --Jon Foster
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