This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Chris Richmond’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I wasn't going to leave a review for this, because:
A.) It's been roughly two weeks since I rewatched it, and I generally like to review things same day or the next so they're fresh in my mind
B.) I'm not strict about writing reviews for rewatches, particularly with movies that no one really gives a shit about.
C.) I wasn't completely sober when I watched it this time.
That said, I now feel compelled to write something, because every review I'm seeing here is mildly complementary in that "yeah-it's-not-good-but-we-got-what-we-wanted-more-or-less" tonal fashion.
No, this movie is not good. Or even decent. It's not horrible exactly, but it's very far from being either of those.
Even aside from the repetitive flash-cut editing, the rampant plotholes, the abysmal acting outside of Bell, Smith, Plummer, and Wahlberg (not saying he's good, but he's not explicitly bad), and the whole idea of this film existing only because the suffering of others is apparently enjoyed enough by the masses to market this and a half dozen more sequels, there's a huge problem here: we have no characters worth caring about and no actual story to follow.
Sure, Jigsaw is a character who's interesting, properly motivated, and known to us, but out of all the cops and victims and everyone else inhabiting Saw II, exactly zero are even remotely interesting or likable.
As for the story, yeah we've got some random (OR ARE THEY?!>>!???) fuckers locked up in Jigsaw's death mansion, and we've got a team of cops racing against the clock to save them (OR ARE THEY?!>>!???), but there are no real consequence as far as the audience is concerned, regardless of the outcome. And let's not pretend we're rooting for them to make it out, because we know good and damn well most (if not all) won't, and we're only here in the first place because we know these peeps are going to meet horrible ends.
There's nothing metaphorically or philosophically tethered to this either, despite what Jigsaw's long-winded speeches and one detective's near-fetishization of his approach would have you believe.
This is empty. This is ugly. The dialogue oscillates among lines uttered obviously for the sole purpose of "characterization" ("My parents aren't getting along and I'm clearly upset, OK now care about me!"); awful, melodramatic, and semi-militaristic back-and-forths from the police and detectives about strategy; and forced, petty bickering among the victims.
Yeah, there's some creativity in the traps themselves, but outside of one or two, they're less "cleverly ironic" and more just random assortments of torture and death devices whose variety is no more impressive than that of the various challenges you'd find in a given episode of Fear Factor.
As for the twists, some are more welcome than others, and several are completely ridiculous. You can only nail timing so well before the coincidence well exceeds any benefit of the doubt the audience can manage.
But hey, if you like listening to people scream for minutes at a time, this one's for you.