In the first of numerous sequels to come, "Saw II" has some great moments and some stinkers too. Even though we have come to expect that this film will have twists and a surprise ending, "Saw II" still accomplishes quite a bit despite expectations, but too many cliche elements in the film bring it down again. I still enjoy this movie but its one of the weaker sequels in the "Saw" franchise.
Once again, the story is our focus here and its a whopper. Detective Eric Mathews (our flawed hero of the day Donnie Wahlberg) is able to apprehend Jigsaw quite easily only to find he has fit himself in as a cog in one of Jigsaw's now patented games. The new game includes a trapped house full of ex-cons who have to work together (and tear each other apart) to find and use a set of antidotes that will cure them of a deadly neurotoxin that will kill them in 2 hours. Sounds pretty slick, eh? Despite so odd jumps in the story (how did they find where Jigsaw is exactly? How did he keep Amanda from the neurotoxin?) that hinder it a bit, the story once again is our saving grace. It's lucky too, as some of the other elements don't quite hold as well to the clever tale.
The acting is perhaps its biggest speed bump in this film. Granted the story does include far too many players to actually build any relationship with and character development suffers. Thusly, when we have some of the people in the house getting knocked off (not a spoiler you knew it would happen) we don't particularly care. The blonde girl, don't remember her name, dies and honestly I was like, 'finally! shut her the fuck up!'. But even the main players give us some lackluster performances in the house. The kid is meh at best and Shawnee Smith only does as good as him. It's the Wahlberg element that saves most of the acting and his interactions with the cryptic Jigsaw.
We also have Darren Lynn Bousman on board as director this time around. Although he has some nice moments, his pacing is very solid and the transitions as very cool - like Mathews putting on his shirt in a bedroom and walking onto the crime scene, but overall his work isn't quite as cool as the first film had. It uses a lot of the same elements (the oddly sped up car parts) but not quite as effectively. It's solid just not as solid as it could have been.
I do enjoy "Saw II" quite a bit, and I immensely enjoy how much of a sequel it is (all the references and ways it fits into the first "Saw" film is quite impressive) and its story keeps you tied down. Too bad too many cliches and not enough time for all the characters bogs it down too much. Solid sequel but nothing great.
Written By Matt Reifschneider