Less soap-operatic than the five previous sequels, “Saw 3D” gets down to gruesome business, torturing the viewer with disgusting setpieces that bring the pain as close to one’s eyeballs as current technology will allow. At least for non-fans, the sole mercy shown by Lionsgate’s latest “Saw” is that it’s billed as the last and plays that way, wrapping things up without the threat of making another killing after this one. Grosses will be big, owing to the pic’s gimmicky third dimension and to its fulfilled promise of taking torture porn — blessedly — to the end of the line.
This time, most of the heinous traps set by sicko Det. Lt. Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) put the screws to those beloved by Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery), whose book about having supposedly survived a near-death encounter with the notorious Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), Hoffman’s former boss, is revealed to be bogus. But Hoffman is also after Jigsaw’s wife, Jill (Betsy Russell), who nearly succeeded in beating the bad lieutenant at his own game near the end of “Saw VI.”
Other victims here include a gang of alleged racists, one of whom, Evan (Chester Bennington), has had his bare back super-glued to the seat of a car, and must tear off his own flesh in order to free his friends. The movie opens, grotesquely, with three members of a love triangle stuck in a storefront display, each one of them attached to a buzzing power saw.
That “Saw 3D” is relentlessly repugnant will delight the franchise’s fans and surprise almost no one. The best that can be said for the pic, gamely directed by longtime “Saw” cutter Kevin Greutert, is that it offers little in between the traps, which are more creatively vicious than they’ve ever been.
Apart from these limb-pulling setpieces, tech credits appear fairly shoddy, as do any 3D effects that don’t include flying viscera. The editing relies on lazy flashbacks, while the dialogue remains as horrific as the killings.
Cameo turns by Bell and the first “Saw’s” Cary Elwes help bring the series full circle while marginally improving the low quality of thesping that has been a trademark of the franchise since 2005.