I put off watching this movie for so long because of its branding as an awful torture porn series. Thankfully, at least in this first iteration of the Saw Franchise, Saw, the gore is never a huge issue. Instead, James Wan attempts to tell a psychological mystery story- an exploration into the morally ambiguous. The plot follows Lawrence (Cary Elwes) and Adam (Leigh Whannell) as they find themselves trapped in a sick twisted death game – forced to figure out clues in a race against time.
The plot here is messy, but fun and thought provoking. There are red herrings. There are flashbacks within flashbacks. New twists and turns constantly appear. This in turn had me constantly asking why. Why were the characters in this situation? Who is Jigsaw and why was he doing what he was doing? As more information is revealed, my view and ideas on what was going on to and around the characters become more nuanced- almost like a jigsaw puzzle (wink wink). However, the constant information dump does feel messy at times.
I like how experimental the film is. The main villain, Jigsaw, teeters on the edge- not fully evil, but certainly not good. The juxtaposition between his selection process and stated purpose will have you asking if he’s morally ambiguous or just straight up a psychopath.
The scenes inside of the run down bathroom were shot great. Whenever the camera focused on Lawrence, it stayed steady- like his character. However, when it shifted to Adam, it rocked, highlighting his erratic nature. However, a lot of the action scenes were choppy and felt out of place. There were too many jumps and it felt like the whole piece would’ve been stronger without them.
TLDR: Saw, is an interesting journey that plays out a lot like a puzzle. The journey is disorienting at times, but watching Lawrence and Adam try and piece everything together is incredibly suspenseful and gripping.
Final Rating: 8.1/10. The movie is ambitious, in spite of its flaws. Anyone who likes a good mystery or wants a movie with a nuanced villain should check this out.
Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!