Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
If someone had told me when the original Saw came out that parts II and III would be just as good if not better than the original, I would have told them they were out of their fucking minds. After all, lightning never strikes the same place twice, much less three times. To my surprise (and I think everyone else’s), the Saw franchise has not only continued on but become a powerhouse. That’s due in no small part to the writing talents of Leigh Whannell and the razor sharp direction of Darren Lynn Bousman.
Saw III starts mere seconds after the ending of Part II with Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Eric Matthews crawling around in the dark trying to free himself of his bindings. After that, one by one we’re introduced to this session’s players — the gruesome killer combo of Jigsaw (Bell) and Amanda (Smith) and their two prizes, Jeff (Macfadyen) and Dr. Lynn Denlon (Soomekh).
Jigsaw is in bad shape. His brain cancer is moments away from killing him, but before he goes, he’s decided with Amanda’s help that there is one last game to be played. As a means to ensure that he is around to see his final endeavor through to the end, Amanda captures Dr. Denlon to keep him alive while their latest subject Jeff goes through his tests. The rules have changed a bit this go-around. Jeff, though the main contestant, isn’t the one who is in danger of being killed. Instead he has the fate of a few others who have horribly wronged him in his hands. Life or death, murder or redemption, it’s all for him to decide.
Saw III is a fan’s movie. It takes everything that is good about the franchise and dishes it out in bloody heaps. Even though the traps are visions of ghastly beauty, the real star here is the storyline. Everything — and I mean everything — you have ever wondered about the events leading up to this point is addressed down to the smallest detail. Everyone necessary to the storyline reprises their roles from previous films (even if it’s only for a second) to make sure things come full circle. This all adds up to a satisfaction guaranteed scenario for Saw enthusiasts as Whannell and Bousman send the series out with a bang, a crunch, and a very messy splat.
In a surprise move we’re not going to have to double-dip to get the gory goodies this time. The unrated edition of Saw III is extremely violent. It’s no wonder it was submitted to the MPAA several times before finally getting an R rating. The good news? All the cut gore is back. That’s right, folks, you’re not going to find any extra added exposition taking up that precious bit of additional runtime. Instead we get the flesh ripping, bone snapping, head exploding mayhem that we only caught glimpses of during the film’s theatrical run. Good fucking stuff!
The extras are on the plentiful side as well; yet, they come with a bit of a deja vu type feeling. We get three featurettes, two of which focus on the traps themselves, and of course the nasty bits known as props. The third is entitled Darren’s Diary, and it’s easily the funniest and most entertaining piece on the DVD. In it we get some looks at the making of the film which, despite the hectic schedule, appears to have been a blast to make. Speaking of blast, be on the look out for a gaseous moment from Shawnee Smith. Yes, even hot chicks fart, but few have these magic moments captured forever on film. Ummm … thank god for supplemental material? From there we get two wisely deleted scenes that add nothing, one starring the ever humble Whannell and the other being a fight scene between Amanda and Denlon, which seemed to go on for just a little too long. Wise move trimming the fat here.
Things are then topped off with not one, not two, but three commentaries. Though each is lively and entertaining, having three commentaries just seems a bit masturbatory. Each consists of a very animated Bousman with various crew members. Color me a bit disappointed here. Being that there are multiple commentaries, shouldn’t one with the cast have been recorded at some point? I’m sure fans would have loved to have heard from Shawnee or Tobin. Hell, I would have even settled for Billy the fucking puppet! If you’re going to listen to just one, check out the first with Bousman, Whannell, and executive producers Peter Block and Jason Constantine. It’s a blast. Oh, there’s that word again. Sorry, Shawnee.
The only other complaint I have here is the packaging. Except for a quick artwork swap, it is identical to that of the original Saw. It’s as if Lionsgate felt the need to remind folks of what it looked like. I get where they’re going with the whole less is more thing, but it didn’t work for me then, and it doesn’t work for me now. I’m not gonna to bitch too much about that though. Even though this is the unrated cut of the film, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a 6-DVD set of the series with never seen before special bonus features somewhere down the road. Sigh.
For now this DVD will do just fine. Saw III brings the series to a close and does so masterfully. If only it could stay that way. Lionsgate will probably dole out another entry citing “fan demand” as the reason. We can only hope that they let things rest on this very high point in the franchise. Oh, who am I kidding?
— For Gregg Hoffman. Rest in peace.
Three audio commentaries
The Traps of Saw III featurette
The Details of Death: The Props of Saw III featurette
Darren’s Diary: Anatomy of a Director featurette
4 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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