"Saw X" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
We are now ten films into the Saw franchise, and "Saw X" just proves how they are not running out of steam anytime soon. Taking place three weeks after the events of the first "Saw" film in the canon, I think the filmmakers here did a great job of going back to the franchise's roots, but also presenting a great story that expands on the character of John Kramer, which has been brilliantly brought to life by Tobin Bell.
The movie follows John (who is also known by his terrifying moniker Jigsaw) decides to go to Mexico after hearing about a revolutionary treatment that will completely destroy the cancer that is living inside patients' bodies, giving them the chance to live long and fruitful lives. He immediately jumps at the opportunity as he feels like he has much more work to do before he fully expires. When he arrives in Mexico, he is greeted by Dr. Cecilia Pederson (Synnøve Macody Lund), who claims she is following in her father's footsteps by curing those who come to her. John falls for it, and they steal his money, revealing to be con artists the entire time.
When he finds this out, John believes they must be tested, to see how much their live actually worth to them if they are so willing to con and trick others. In fact, even though he never admits it, I would say he wants to take revenge against these evil people. Therefore, he and his associate Amanda (Shawnee Smith) design intricate games for the people working the con, which include Dr. Pederson and her associates, Mateo (Octavio Hinojosa), Gabriela (Renata Vaca), Diego (Joshua Okamoto), and Valentina (Paulette Hernández).
This entire film feels like a return to form for the Saw franchise, and makes the viewers wonder if this is what the first film would have felt like if it was made now instead of back in the early 2000s. From the grimy atmosphere to the quick jump cuts and ultra-sped shots, the movie is very reminiscent of the first film. Even though "Spiral: From the Book of Saw" did its best to try and tell a different retelling of this kind of killer, it simply wasn't the same as what the earlier movies did.
Perhaps the best thing about this film as a whole is the story. If you notice, ever other Saw movie has a very basic and bare bones story. They provide just enough story and context to understand why the victims of Jigsaw are going through the games, but that's it. Therefore, the viewer simply can't sympathize or like the characters much. So, if the character dies, why should the viewer have any care? Here, however, we can sort of sympathize with one of the victims, but the film makes the viewer want to care about John. I would say John is present in this movie more than he ever has been in the Saw franchise. We learn more about him as a character and his motives, and interestingly enough, the film wants the viewer to emphasize with him and paint him as the protagonist in all of this. While I can see what they're going for, I think it is a very interesting choice for the viewer to want to root for the serial killer.
But, I think it was a very good choice for them to make the story seem more complex and interesting. As a viewer, we definitely learn a lot about Jigsaw and Amanda, and their relationship is more fleshed out when we get towards the middle of the film. We always knew they had a complex relationship built off of love and respect, but we really see it here. Amanda also feels like a very real person with real human emotions, which I know is hard for the franchise as a whole to pull off.
The gore and torture is very elegantly on display here. While it is definitely a more slow-burn film and the traps are few and far between, they are very effective and sickening, making even me have to watch through fingers at different parts of the film. This franchise has always been able to capitalize on the gross-out factor, and it does it very well once again here.
It was great to see the return of Jigsaw here, and I think this is easily one of the best Saw films so far in the franchise. It was a very interesting approach the filmmakers took, and I think it really did pay off in the end. They set up for another film after this one, and I really hope it follows in this movie's footsteps as this franchise has yet to run out of steam.