Saw II, 2005
Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman
Starring: Donnie Wahlberg, Franky G, Glenn Plummer, Beverley Mitchell, Dina Meyer, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Erik Knudsen, Shawnee Smith, Tobin Bell
Saw II carried on all the traditions set about in Saw, but, in my opinion, did them better and more exciting, but it, like its predecessor, wasn’t perfect. Saw II opens up to a group of policemen who have tracked down Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), who we find out to be called John Kramer, and detain him, only to see that on computer monitors in another room are a group of people trapped inside Jigsaw’s latest game, one of whom is lead detective, Eric Matthews’ (Donnie Wahlberg) son, Daniel Matthews (Erik Knudsen). Inside the house, the group of people are told they’re being poisoned by a gas and have two hours to live unless they find a cure, and various cures are scattered around the house.
One of the reasons I find this film better than the first is the game, and the reactions of those involved. In Saw they talked a lot (while needed to set up the back-story it slowed down the excitement of the game), but in this they all set about solving their way out of the house. They looked terrified, they acted terrified; but some of the decisions taken were a bit confusing. Inside the house there was a villain (a selfish man who wanted to survive for himself) and his arc was so confusing in the grander scheme of things: firstly he’s just angry and trying to be assertive, but seemingly out of nowhere he becomes a murderer. And, more confusing about his alter actions is that he finds an answer to survival, in spotting the numbers, but fails to tell anyone, instead he walks towards them with a sinister look on his face. He wasn’t misunderstood in his approach, which I think could have been better, instead he murders them and takes their number.
Much like the first, there’s a brilliant twist at the end, however, unlike the first, I saw this one coming. It was still a surprising twist and could easily be missed, but the film left a few subtle hints at the twist. However, the back-story and life of John Kramer added in this film gave life to the villain; he’s not just doing it because he disagrees with life choices of those involved, he’s doing it as he disagrees with those who take life for granted. He’s also dying of cancer and was very willing to be caught by the policemen. He’s so much more of an interesting villain with a history and motives, and it also adds the layer of questioning from the audience: if bad people are being punished, who are we cheering on? The punisher, who is a murderer, or those who have broken the law in whatever different way? Adding this helped the film so much more.
However, as you may have spotted from my score, one area let it down for me: its presentation. It, at times, looks horrible, the way they’ve edited it, with stupidly quick shots in succession, each with different camera angles, with some even inside ones imagination. There’s also a moment towards the end which has the policemen inside the house quickly look to their left, the camera then pans to the left to see the house’s villain, but these moments are not happening, as it appears, in one shot. There’s horrible sound effects, it’s horribly edited and even the gore and brutality of detail on the victims isn’t enough to make this film look good as its editing looks awful.
Overall a more enjoyable film, with characters with stories to be invested in, from the detective and his son’s relationship, to John Kramer’s illness and beliefs, with another nice twist (even if it was more predictable). It’s rare for a sequel to outclass its predecessor, but with more focus on the games, and a cleverer game that they’re playing, Saw II achieves that feat.
Plot: * * *
Acting: * * *
Writing: * * *
Overall Rating: * * ½
Other films in the Saw series: