A regret that I maintain to this very day is not watching the first "Saw" film in a theater setting. Aside from the story resembling an updated format of "Se7en," it still contains one of the most brilliant and unexpected twist endings in all of cinema history. The fact that I did not experience that revelatory moment in an auditorium with an audience still disappoints me.
"Saw" became a sleeper hit for Lionsgate Studio/Twisted Pictures. Eventually a franchise was established with significant ease due to its relatively low budgets and lack of big-name celebrities, allowing each film to generate a profit during its opening weekend. Each sequel found itself becoming an event with audiences across the world with one being released every year. The story transformed from a subtle, intense, detective murder-horror mystery into a series of films focusing more on the conceptual basis of the traps, violence and gore. Its story is unique, centering on serial killer/vigilante Jonathan Kramer/Jigsaw utilizing his intelligence and experience with engineering, testing the human will to live. After receiving a diagnosis of an inoperable frontal lobe tumor, Jigsaw, suffering through cancer and disillusionment with people taking advantage of lives, harming innocent individuals and scamming, is driven to create sinister, violent and painful tests as a means of witnessing their survival skills.
"Saw X" offers a different perspective into the philosophy of Kramer. The film focuses on his diagnosis as he is slowly building a legacy as the infamous Jigsaw Killer. After the discovery of the cancerous tumor, he finds a promising treatment that could potentially cure his ailment. Through different revelations he uncovers shady dealings leading to creating a game changing the course of the subjects forever. The story takes place during/between the events of the first and second film. I have to say it is essential to watch all of them in order to remember timelines, past references and various characters. However, for first-time "Saw" viewers, watching the first two films along with "Saw X" will ultimately assist in understanding the deeper elements of the character himself.
As a fan from the initial onset, I understand much like with any film there are going to be established viewpoints of different opinions. The "Saw" franchise presents no in-between related to the reception. I made sure to never miss a "Saw" theatrical release after not experiencing the release of the first film in cinema, and I have been a fan ever since. It is my opinion this specific release is one of the best entries since the first one. I find it a refreshing return to form with how the story is strictly more character oriented with a surprising amount of emotion, attention to detail and how it did not fall into the formulaic process of overcomplicating themes by simply adding traps or gore for the sake of surprise. Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith reprise their iconic characters as Jigsaw and Amanda Young.
It is important for me to state that I cannot venture into any real details about this film, as it will ultimately spoil every aspect of the story. That is the beautiful element of these "Saw" cinematic outings. Even with the high visceral amounts of violence, gore, blood and language, there is a story contained that requires viewing in order to understand character motivations, revelations and suspense. "Saw X" returning to what made the first film such a memorable experience is a wonderful sense of fresh air. Watching Bell and Smith return to their roles as if they never left in the first place will remind audiences of their underrated acting ability.
How they crafted a great story serving as a prequel/sequel exploring the actual philosophy behind Kramer before he becomes fully consumed with his mission was a take that I was not expecting. Another aspect I appreciated was how the test subjects were not good people in the slightest. You find yourself rooting with John in this story due to the importance and central theme of why in this moment pursuing them is a significant goal for him in teaching a lesson worth remembering. The acting is immensely raw and powerful; simple traps still offer the same brutality, intensity and suspense that "Saw" is known for, and the ending with the special scene during the credits was exciting, too.
Overall, I loved "Saw X" and proudly proclaim that it is a return to form by remaining with the basics. If you are a "Saw" fan, you will love it. My final rating for "Saw X" is 10/10 and two thumbs up reaction. Highly recommended.
To watch Isaiah Ridley's movie reviews online, find him @Izzy's Cinematic Escape on YouTube.
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