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Review: 'Saw' sequel adds some wit to the gore

| Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009

"You have seen the errors in your policy," Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) hisses in the latest "Saw" movie. And, kids, he's hissing a pun at Big Insurance when he does, the profiteers who determine "who lives and who dies."

As Jigsaw tortures the actuarial menace who sentenced him and other cancer patients to death, forcing Not-Evil-Just-Officious Will (Peter Outerbridge) to save or let die his Umbrella Insurance colleagues, Will is reminded that "your decisions (are) symbolized by the blood on your hands."

You just don't expect that from a "Saw" movie, do you• "But "Saw VI," which begins by making two "predatory lenders" carve off hunks of their flesh, dump it on a scale and see which one can lose the most weight the quickest (the loser dies), is surfing the zeitgeist, and how.

It's still torture porn, more excruciating than scary. It's still all about the elaborate and gory "games" the victims must win in order to survive Jigsaw's test of character, redemption and humanity. Body parts are lost, guts spill and sharp objects pierce to the sound of screams in the night. But this script, by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, has a more lyrical bent, and a more satiric bite, than any of the other "Saw" sequels.

That's a bit like saying "You're fully covered, until you make that first claim," but hey, "Saw" movies make you grasp at straws.

An insurance company lawyer, a "sensationalist" reporter (Samantha Lemole), a lifelong smoker and assorted innocents are trapped in the latest underground murder maze. They're all dependent on the character and courage of a guy who developed the actuarial tables that his company uses to shed customers who won't actually make money for Umbrella Insurance.

In other words, they're all screwed.

There's still this multimovie subplot, police intrigues about catching the man actually carrying out the long-dead Jigsaw's will, now that his last will and testament have been read. The widow (Betsy Russell) is mixed up with the murderous cop (Costas Mandylor) covering his Jigsaw tracks. Poor Shawnee Smith returns as a Jigsaw convert in the many (newly filmed) flashbacks.

The acting is perfunctory on most fronts, though Outerbridge brings a measure of pathos to his claims adjuster. I like to think Tobin Bell, more a voice and reptilian presence than an actor, has bought an island somewhere on his "Saw"-gotten gains.

He'll make at least one more payment on it if he has. Yes, there will be a "Saw VII" even if "Paranormal Activity" snuffs this one out at the box office, and "Saw VII" will be in 3D. I can hardly wait.

Maybe we'll all have full health coverage by the time that one opens. Jigsaw wouldn't have it any other way.

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