Thursday, November 5, 2009

Saw II (2005)

by JM

For the last few years, I have avoided the Saw movies. The little I knew about them from previews and commercials made them look like Seven, and, frankly, I like my movies to be a little lighter than Seven. I mean, if I wanted to think, I would read a book, you know? Give me Friday the 13th part 6: Jason Lives any day. The deepest question anyone has when watching that movie is, why did Tommy throw Jason’s mask into his open grave?

Well, I recently found the first five Saw movies packaged together for $20 and just could not pass that up. At $4 a movie, I had to take the chance. Certainly, I would like something about one of them, right?

Well, let me tell you, from laughing out loud while Cary Elwes blubbered and sobbed in part one, to finding, with great delight, Betsy Russell (of Cheerleader Camp!!!!) pop up in part 3 (and 4, and 5), to recognizing, with more shock, Costas Mandylor (of Picket frigginFences!!!) hamming it up through sequel after sequel, I can honestly say I am a HUGE fan of this movie franchise.

I should have known that any franchise dedicated to cranking out a sequel each and every year would not fail.

In my opinion, the jewel of this series of movies is the first sequel, Saw II. If you need evidence as to why this movie is so great… well, just take a look:

But, I am getting ahead of myself.

In the first Saw, Danny Glover played the hardboiled detective searching for answers in the case of the Jigsaw murders. In part two, As Detective Matthews, the case-hardened investigator is played by former New Kids On The Block (or NKOTB) singer Donnie Wahlberg. Now, this may seem like a strange choice, but to anyone familiar with his fantastic work in the TV show Boomtown, it will not be totally surprising. He’s kind of like his brother Mark, but a lot more scowl-y. Count me as a fan.

Another welcome face is Dina Meyer, who, as Kerry, is one of the few carryover characters from the original movie. From 90210, to Johnny Mnemonic, to Bats, to Decoys 2, this woman’s credentials are impeccable (at least by Tower Farm standards). I have to admit, though, that I am beginning to find her remarkably wrinkle-free face to be a little disturbing.

Tobin Bell returns as Jigsaw. This time, he has taken his cue from the movie The Cube, as he inexplicably manages to kidnap a group of individuals (including Det. Matthews son, Daniel), allowing them to wake up in a room having no idea where they are or how they got there.

Among this group of hostages is the movie’s real star… Shawnee Smith’s hair.

Shawnee Smith reprises the role of Amanda from Saw… a role that was about 5 minutes long in the first movie. Talk about hitting the jackpot.

I can clearly remember being in third grade at Davis Park Elementary School in Terre Haute, Indiana. The teacher handed out a piece of paper that had a long list of directions. The first one was to read all the directions before we began. From number two on, the directions were ridiculous, instructing each of us to write and color and God only remembers what else. The final direction, however, was to ignore all of the previous instructions. So, only those in the class that read the paper all the way through and did nothing actually were successful.

I can't say that I remember Jigsaw being in that class with me. But, if that teacher had included things like putting our arms into glass boxes that would slice us up if we tried to pull our arms back out again, she would have pretty much nailed the plot of the movie.

This movie also includes one of my favorite taglines ever: "Oh Yes, There Will Be Blood". Add to this the ridiculousness of having a character in the movie actually deliver that line, and we have one hell of a great sequel.

Four Fingers!


  1. JM,
    This is a brilliant review...I am proud (for once) to call you my brother.
    I'd forgotten what a total mess Shawnee Smith was in this movie. What's happening on top of her head? Were there no mirror on set?
    Can't wait to watch the rest in the series now...

  2. I a 100% hands down agree with you with this review. I've been suckered into seeing most of the Saw movies, I just haven't seen the 6th one. But my favorite is the 2nd one. I loved the different & original ways people died in this one & it was really easy to follow the plot line. I remember when I first saw it I completely missed the fact that Shawnee Smith was in fact the same character from the 1st one for the longest time while watching. Her hair was insane!! It was funny too seeing the one of the daughters from 7th Heaven in this one too. hehe.

    Great review!! =)

  3. I like III best, personally, but I gotta admit that II is the one that got me into the spirit of the franchise. Cool post, as always.

  4. I liked Saw II and III is such a damn mess that I stopped, but I do intend on finishing the money-chomping sequels someday. And THANKS for mentioning Amanda's lame hair!!! Amazing! Thanks for a humorous review to a mainstream movie.

  5. What a great review, especially the deepest question in F13 pt. 6 and the nice mention of Wahlberg's thespian skills. Part 3 was tops, followed by this one and then the original.

    The needle scene always freaks my wife out every time we watch it, so imagine the joy she had when I asked her to read your review and she saw that.

  6. Its uncanny how many films we have completely opposite opinions on JM, I can never get in to SAW II. I dont know what it is, but Shawnee Smith annoys the shit out of me, and the entire plot felt so forced as compared to the first or third films (I cant honestly remember 4 or 5). There were definitely some sweet moments though, but for my money SAW III was the best in the series

  7. Okay. Okay. I guess I'll need to watch part 3 again. I know I found it enjoyable. But, nothing about it really sticks out to me (other than feeling like Kerry's death was undeserved).

    Of course, by the way, Shawnee Smith annoys the shit out of you, Carl. This is just what she does!


  8. Sweet review Jim! I like to imagine P.T. Anderson was inspired to make There Will Be Blood after seeing this film because if such a fun fact were true, the world would be a better place.

    I like the Saw series with varying levels of enjoyment. For me, the best entries were Parts 2 and 4 although 3 does have the most ridiculously entertaining traps. None of the films are incredible pieces of cinema, but for an annually produced franchise, you could certainly do worse.

  9. I loved Parts 2 and 4 with four getting things back on track and the last two wern't that bad to be honest, even if I have now excepted as we move onto Saw 7 that none of them will top the first film.

    The trouble with part 2 for me, was that I reconised the horror critic "The Arrow" of "Arrow in the Head" fame as one of the computer tech guys (he's the one which says they have found him) so I got too distracted with that the first time I watched it, but it is definatly a strong contender for the best of the sequels.