One could argue that Saw V was the turning point for the franchise. This movie took a huge risk in openly promoting the fact that the killer we’ve all grown to love is dead, but that doesn’t stop him from showing up. There is no going back after the events of Saw IV, especially with Jigsaw, as portrayed by Tobin Bell, meet his end (hopefully that wasn’t a spoiler for anyone familiar with the franchise). But, with Bell’s Jigsaw now a memory, it was time for there to be a successor, and we got it in the form of Costas Mandylor’s Detective Hoffman, who is now the new Jigsaw. That’s right – someone is carrying on the legacy and also testing the fans devotion to this killer franchise. But, that doesn’t mean that Bell is nowhere to be seen. In fact, he’s all over this installment from start to finish, but it works and his presence plays a key role in not only this installment, but also all the ones that have come before it.
In the fifth installment of the “Saw” franchise, Hoffman is seemingly the last person alive to carry on the Jigsaw legacy. But when his secret is threatened, Hoffman must go on the hunt to eliminate all loose ends. The mystery and the suspense that has made the Saw franchise reaches new heights in the fifth installment, shedding light on both the original Jigsaw and the man now carrying the name. Pieces come together and the game is set as the story continues to take unpredictable turns.
Remember the tagline for this installment? “You won’t believe how it ends?” Yeah, well, that’s a bit of a misdirect and I’d strong recommend if you actually push that aside when watching this movie. If you go into that mindset when watching this then, well, you’re going to be more disappointed then anything. There’s nothing really unexpected about the ending, and it actually works really well with the theme of this movie – which is essentially trust – but just try and push away the “you won’t believe” tag as, well, it’ll likely kill some of the film’s momentum. It’s still an entertaining installment of the franchise, not the best mind-you, and it really does extend the story even though, well, the story shouldn’t have gotten this far. But amazingly, the story is continuing on and it’s working. I’m surprised that Lionsgate has managed to stretch the Saw franchise to six movies (this includes the upcoming final installment) out of what was originally a one-shot movie. Even more amazingly, none of this feels tacked on or stretched. It’s not perfect, especially how some of the flashbacks can come off as confusing, but it’s a credit that the creative team for these films are able to make them work.
However, you have to be able to swallow that Jigsaw had a second apprentice, one who was there the entire time, stretching all the way back to the beginning. For some this may be insulting to their intelligence and, in a way, it is. While I won’t claim this movie to be a feast of intelligent writing on how they manage to integrate Hoffman into nearly scene from the previous Saw installments, they do manage to do it in a way that isn’t flat-out ridiculous. It is plausible, and that’s good enough for me to accept it for this movie series. But there is a major downside to this, which is the fact that Saw 5 is very unfriendly to new viewers. Around the time of Saw III, the franchise started filling in background holes and making countless references to previous installments, and that was only enhanced with Saw IV with even more complicated flashbacks and fill ins. It goes without saying that with each flashback, the series is showing its age more and more, and that it may not be entirely successful in trying to make itself relevant. Still, I can only imagine how Saw VI is going to wrap everything up and I can’t help but be curious. Still, you may need a refresher course before checking out Saw V.
And as negative as that sounds, I want to stress that I still enjoyed the movie, and fans of the franchise of the horror/drama genre will likely get the same out of it. Some parts are difficult to watch, and some characters make some really bad choices, just like the previous Saw installments, but the overall story is interesting and while this may be probably the weakest installment of the franchise, I am still interested in how the story is going to play out in the final movie. While Saw V lacks the twists that each of the previous installments had, it seems quite obvious this film is setting up the final installment of the franchise, so I can forgive it on that level.
I will give credit where it’s due and acknowledge the risk Lionsgate took by openly promoting the newest Saw installment almost solely around the fact that our main protagonist we’ve grown attached to over the past four Saw films is dead. And by doing that, I think that it helps move the story along without the risk of it falling into the “jumping the shark” area for the franchise. Sure, the original Jigsaw, played by Tobin Bell, shows up quite a bit, showing us how the new Jigsaw came about, but it works. How this will all wrap up in Saw VI remains to be seen, but fans won’t be let down by this installment. As the storyline heads into a new direction, heading toward the climax of the overall story, fans should be able to appreciate the place Saw V holds in the story, even if the movie itself a bit weaker than those that came before it. In fact, I’d label this installment as decidedly average. Regardless, Saw V comes Highly Recommended, with plenty of story, blood and gore for fans to enjoy.
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has released Saw V in the standard Elite Blu-ray case. Disappointingly, like with their recent Hulk Versus Blu-ray release, there’s no artwork on the other side of the case wrap-around, artwork that can be seen through the Elite case when you open it up. I thought that was a great touch to the Blu-ray releases and was disappointed to see them discontinued.
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has provided a nice Blu-ray release for Saw V. The extras feature here include two commentary tracks, one featuring director David Hackl and first assistant director Steve Webb, and the other with producers Mark Burg and Oren Koules, and executive producers Peter Block and Jason Constantine. The commentaries are fairly standard and congratulatory, although some tidbits about the Saw franchise and film continuity pops in and out. After that we get a nice assortment of featurettes looking at the assorted death traps from the film. The featurettes cover many aspects of the traps, including the practical effects and make-up used to make everything appear believeable. We’re also treated to, as you can expect, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and footage from the film itseldf, providing many different looks of the traps from start to finish, basically. They also briefly touch upon editing in the film, something that critics always seem to focus on in each critique it seems, while looking at the opening “Cube Trap” from the film. Trailers, Bookmarking options, and a Digital Copy wrap -up the Blu-ray disc.
It’s a solid home video release for Saw V, with the high-definition Blu-ray copy the way to go for fans. The audio and video is crystal clear here, providing probably the best rendition of the movie that you’ll ever see. Lionsgate Home Entertainment has apparently had a rough past when it comes to releasing content onto Blu-ray, but I find this to be a really good release. Fans of the
Saw V is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.