Lionsgate // 2008 // 96 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // February 13th, 2009
You won't believe how it ends...
Truth be told, there is no real ending in David Hackl's Saw V, and to be honest, I didn't really expect one to be there in the first place. No, Saw V: 2-Disc Unrated Director's Cut (Blu-Ray) is merely the beginning, and all it does is set the stage for more films to come.
Like most of its predecessors, Saw V begins immediately where the last one left off. As we all know by now, Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and Amanda are dead, and now it's time for his new apprentice to carry on his legacy. Meanwhile, Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) tries everything in his power to uncover the identity of the new killer.
Do you want to play a game? Almost five years have passed since the first Saw opened in theaters and quickly built a massive fan base. Here we are facing the fifth part, with probably plenty more to come. Even though the sequels undoubtedly did a solid job at supplying diehard fans with tons of sadistic traps and loads of gore, the novelty of the concept has been wearing off. I don't know about you, but I found the storyline of Saw V to be the weakest yet.
The main problem I have with this fifth film is its lack of innovation. Saw V doesn't really offer us anything we haven't seen many times before, spending a considerable amount of time revisiting its predecessors. Taking a look back at previous films help refresh the memory, but not if it takes up a whole third of the film. I understand this look back in time is vital to explain viewers how Jigsaw got acquainted with his latest apprentice and all, but to be honest, there's nothing particularly intriguing about watching them setting up all those past traps.
On a similar note, the consequence of a rather superficial script is a slow-moving plot. At first, it seems like we've got plenty of things going on in this film, but as it turns out, the story doesn't really advance that much in the end. Additionally, none of it is really suspenseful. First, we have all those flashbacks I just mentioned. Secondly, we get to follow Agent Strahm as he tries tracking down the killer. Finally, we also get to witness a group of people as they are forced to confront their fears and overcome their flaws in one of Jigsaw's traditional games. This last part is indeed the film's most interesting part, and I wish it would have covered more of the total running time.
After working as production designer and second unit director on some of the previous Saw films, David Hackl took over the role as director for the fifth film. Unfortunately, he doesn't add anything new to the franchise, sticking instead to the conventions of the previous sequels. Scott Patterson and Costas Mandylor deliver decent performances as the film's two central detectives. Tobin Bell is also part of the game, of course, and he succeeds in doing what he does best: putting on a threatening look without even raising an eyebrow. Other than that, the empty characters prevent most of the actors in this flick from showing us what they really got.
This Blu-ray release is an unrated director's cut. The feature film is about four minutes longer than the theatrical release, and I'm pretty sure some of the killings are a little longer. Other than that, it's tough to tell the difference between the two versions. As far as the film's technical aspects are concerned, Lionsgate put together a solid DVD. The 2.35:1 non-anamorphic widescreen transfer looks great, boasting a clean, sharp image quality throughout. I was concerned about the film's dark look being a little grainy perhaps, but I didn't really encounter that problem. The disc also carries a 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio transfer, and it certainly delivers the goods, provided you are equipped with the appropriate surround sound system.
The bonus section on the DVD spends more time with the film's traps than anything else, but if you would like to find out how the filmmakers designed and built them, most of these behind-the-scenes looks turn out to be quite interesting. Each trap has its own short featurette, during which cast and crew members discuss the concept, design, and challenges of building the sets and shooting the scenes. The bonus material also includes two feature commentaries, one with director David Hackl and first assistant director Steve Webb, and the second with producers Oren Koules, Mark Burg, Peter Block, and Jason Constantine. While most of these guys offer a fair amount of information about the making of the film, some of what they have to say is a little too repetitive for my taste. I wouldn't go as far as say the commentaries are boring, but if you decide to listen to both of them and watch the featurettes, you'll definitely be fed up with those traps, I can guarantee you that.
The disc also includes a MoLog, a new feature exclusive to Blu-ray discs. Although I still don't really see the purpose of it, this application allows viewers to add images, animations, and text straight into the film to create bookmarks and share them with users online. This sounds like it will keep the kids busy for a while, but then again, Saw V isn't exactly the kind of film you would want to share with your little ones. The second disc includes a digital copy you can download onto your computer.
Saw V isn't fast-paced or suspenseful enough. The fun of Saw is gone, and it's time to end this series for good. That said, a sixth film is confirmed and will open later this year. Like it or not, but as long as these films will perform well at the box office and on DVD, new Saw films will be heading our way. Don't expect any ending to this any time soon.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Digital Copy
* Official Site