5.5/10 Four years after “Jigsaw”, the previous movie in this highly profitable horror franchise, comes a sequel/spin off that takes some new directions but still brings up everything familiar you’d expect from a “Saw” movie. About half of the movie works and the other half doesn’t, so let’s look at where the movie falls short to begin. Screenwriters Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger are clearly Quentin Tarantino fans as this movie has a few moments that are ripped straight from Tarantino’s films. The movie begins with a few characters waiting to get to work and to kill time they start talking about (outdated) pop culture. A combination of the “Pulp Fiction” scene with Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta discussing foot massages while killing time before entering an apartment and the opening pop culture discussion of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” in “Reservoir Dogs”, this scene has characters discussing “Forrest Gump” and stating obvious facts about the film. The scene feels extremely out of place and like it is trying to be a Tarantino film so badly that it reeks of desperation. Add that to a POV trunk scene later in the movie (something Tarantino has in most of his films) and the vibes are definitely there. Speaking of Samuel L. Jackson, although he gets second billing on the poster, he wasn’t even in most of the movie and is painfully underdeveloped. The “Saw” films are known for their twist endings and while this movie certainly has one, it wasn’t all that surprising, especially when an earlier moment in the movie felt off and unlike other parts of the movie due to it not being what you think it is. That may sound a little confusing but to avoid spoilers I won’t say more than that except to say that this is one of the weaker twists from this franchise. Finally, the movie tries to get political by saying how corrupt the police are…while simultaneously making the movie’s hero a cop. The political side luckily wasn’t too heavy handed but it felt like it wanted to have its cake and eat it too. It wants to condemn the police while simultaneously rooting for them, which felt off to me. As for what worked, Chris Rock was successfully able to shed his comedic chops and puts in a fine performance as our lead. The new traps in this movie were inventive and gruesomely creative as one would expect. I loved that they tied this movie into “Saw” but without going overboard with callbacks to the franchise’s past. The editing was quick and strong as the movie’s hour and a half run time stays true to your average “Saw” film’s running time. You will be entertained from start to finish and seeing a modern, updated version of a franchise that started almost 20 years ago is fun to watch. If you liked “Saw” and its multiple sequels, you will get enjoyment out of this movie but this won’t bring in any new fans and follows the familiar formula that we’ve seen multiple times now. But hey…at least I can say I…saw…this.

#BetweenAChrisRockAndAGuardPlace / #FreaksAndZekes / #HeadOfStatePenitentiary / #ShutYourTrap / #TheSpiralNetwork / #MaxPain

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