Thursday Night Movie Club
star rating graphicstar rating graphic½
Release Date: October 29, 2004

Director: James Wan
Leigh Whannell
Cary Elwes
Danny Glover
Ken Leung
Dina Meyer
Mike Butters
Paul Gutrecht
Michael Emerson
Benito Martinez
Shawnee Smith
Makenzie Vega
Monica Potter
Ned Bellamy
Alexandra Bokyun Chun
Avner Garbi
Dr. Lawrence Gordon
Detective David Tapp
Detective Steven Sing
Zep Hindle
Diana Gordon
Alison Gordon
Saw movie poster
Saw makes a point, but is uneffective. Unlike the previous week's release, "The Grudge" was effective yet pointless. "The Grudge" had me on the edge of my seat, but it was only an excercise in film-making suspense. Saw did not keep me on the edge of my seat, even though the backstory was much creepier. Go figure!

Screenwriter, Leigh Whannel, stars as Adam. Adam awakens in a darkened room, lit only by a small flashlight. He is submerged in water. He wakes in a panic. Who wouldn't? Where is he? What is he doing here? Questions, questions...!

Adam quickly realizes he is not alone. This could be good. This could be bad. The lights flick on and Adam finds himself trapped in a room with Dr. Lawrence Gordon. Lying on the floor is an unknown deadman in a pool of blood pouring from his head! Both men find themselves in the same preicament. They are both chained to pipes, on opposite ends of a broken-down bathroom. "The Game is afoot!"

...and what a game it is! The two men accidentally find envelopes in their pockets containing small cassette tapes, labeled "Play me". The dead man is lying on the floor. Near one hand is a gun. In his right hand is a cassette player. What are the odds? After a struggle, Adam retrieves the tape player and plays his tape. He finds himself in a "game". In order to survive, he must find a way to free himself. When Dr. Gordon's tape is played, his "game" is much more intriguing. In order for him to obtain his freedom, he must kill Adam before 6 p.m. Inside Gordon's envelope is one bullet.

Both tapes inform each that there are clues to their escape hidden in the room around them. They both find a pair of hacksaws. When the saws fail to cut their chains (why they don't cut the padlocks i don't know), the "game" is obvious. They must saw through their ankles if they wish to get out alive. But Dr. Gordon is really up against it. His "game" is much more involved. He must kill Adam or the mysterious entity holding them prisoner will kill Gordon's wife and daughter.

The backstory gets more complicated as Gordon thinks he knows who is behind this. A few months prior, Gordon was accused of being the mysterious psychopath who has been kidnapping people and making them play sadistic games in order to survive. He is giving people with no hope a chance to decide if they really want to live. He makes them question their values, morals. This is an intersesting premise for the rest of the film.

Detective David Tapp is on the trail of the mystery man. He once came close to apprehending the culprit. The result was the culprit escaped and Tapp's partner was horribly killed. Tapp is obsessed with finding this mystery man who he still believes is Dr. Gordon. Saw becomes a cat-and-mouse game of who is behind these events and what will Dr. Gordon and Adam do to survive.

Once again, another movie comes along to depict how inept the local police department is. When Detectives Tapp and Sing head out to arrest the mystery man, they do not call for any backup! What is it with policemen in movies who are so obsessed that they forget standard police protocol?

Like I said, this should have been a mind-wrecking movie. Unfortunately, the suspense never grows through the film. As the clock ticks away towards 6 p.m., the two men argue and work together to escape. But the movie remains on an even keel until the end when all mayhem breaks loose. Of course, this movie wouldn't be called "Saw" unless the saw played an important part.

Whannel wrote a good story. He is also very good as Adam. I think the problem in the movie is with director James Wan's execution. The scenes of Dr. Gordon and Adam play out like a two-man stage play. It is directed in a straight-forward manner. As it turns out, the scenes of the two trapped men are more interesting than any of the two men's flashbacks designed to fill in the gaps. I think Alfred Hitchcock would have loved making this film, shot entirely in the dilapidated bathroom and left all of the other characters out. Even the eventual surprise ending left me unfulfilled. Been there, done that! Maybe I've seen too many movies.

Saw is worth a look though!