The final cut – The day many of us thought would never come has arrived as “Saw 3D” marks the seventh and final piece to a series I never thought would make it this far. Granted, I was one of the fans that initially felt this entire premise had tremendous potential. I mean, had they not jumped the gun on “Saw II” and simply took their time with what would come next, who knows what this franchise could have been.  But, the producers got too antsy after seeing the box office return for the original go over $100 million worldwide. So, they rushed production for the sequel, and the next thing we knew, a new installment would arrive every Halloween for the next seven years. Hard to believe this is it, but after watching “Saw 3D,” believe me, it’s time to say goodbye.

As the story continues…we are back at the beginning where Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes) is crawling away from the vacant industrial bathroom where he had just sawed off his foot to escape the trap set by John Kramer, a.k.a. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell). Clearly meant to remind us he lived, the story flashes forward to present day where we find Kramer’s wife Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell) escaping the wrath of Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), who managed to survive the reverse bear trap she set at the end of “Saw VI.”  With really nowhere else to turn, she found her way back into Hoffman’s precinct, where she asked detective Gibson (Chad Donella) for help in exchange for her immunity. Knowing Hoffman was now behind the infamous Jigsaw killings, Gibson agreed, thus beginning the search for Hoffman before he got to his next victim. But, of course, in true Jigsaw fashion, he was several steps ahead with his “plan,” having already captured Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery) and placing him into an abandoned insane asylum for one of his infamous ‘tests’ of will. Turns out Bobby had lied to reach his fame and fortune as a so-called former Jigsaw survivor, thus placing him in this “game” where he would have to choose who lives or dies among those closest to him.  So, as this primary story twists and turns through a series of flashbacks and flash forwards, you start to realize there is always another plan, leading to a predictable conclusion that is actually quite satisfying, which is out of the norm for this series.

Who was in it?  For anyone that follows these types of films, you know the cast is really the last thing that matters. So, I won’t waste your time with who did what, because frankly most of the cast dies anyway.  That’s how it goes with this series, so I won’t pretend this group did anything special, but will point out it was nice to see Cary Elwes back. Often forgotten for pretty much everything he has ever done, Elwes has this knack of pulling you into his creepy, yet somewhat charming presence. So, even though he wasn’t around a whole lot, he certainly helped bring some sort of class to this cast led by Costas Mandylor, who even this far into the series is still marginal, at best, as the primary villain carrying out Jigsaw’s legacy. What a waste of talent this guy is, especially when you start to grasp how easy it would have been to keep Tobin Bell’s character, John Kramer, alive throughout this series with a few mild re-touches to the script.

Filling the void – There’s no doubt a lot of hard work goes into all the rediculous contraptions and traps within any one of these films from the famed series. I just wish more time was spent on the story, as sometimes, what I call “filler” or “fluff” takes you out of the intensity of the individual “games” taking place, which is unfortunate.  I mean, that’s what this entire franchise was built upon; the stories of selfish individuals who took advantage of situations within their core circle of trust.  Any more time spent around that central concept, would have hammered home the final piece to this story even more. Granted, it could have been a lot worse, as seen in previous installments; so I commend writer’s Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunston for at least ensuring this series ended with some sort of value.

Beyond that, I’m not sure why this was filmed using 3-D cameras, as very few scenes made in impact in that manner. Sure, the overall texture and depth of some backdrops used were enhanced by 3-D, but who cares. I doubt anyone going to watch this film is going for all the dynamic features 3-D can offer when used properly. They are going to see all the blood and gore that goes along with this unique series, which at least for this last chapter wasn’t as much as you would expect. Maybe that’s because of the multiple cuts this film endured after final production when producers were forced to move it from a NC-17 rating to an R-rating. But, either way, for director Kevin Greutert to even make this film entertaining  was impressive, given he was brought into the project just two weeks prior to the start of filming.

Bottom Line – If you watched the first six to this series, you pretty much already know what to expect with the seventh.  And while this film certainly doesn’t deserve too many accolades, it does tie up a lot of the loose ends that have followed this franchise from the beginning, which was almost like a departing gift for fans that have loved and hated these films for the past seven years.

B-

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