Dan Abel’s review published on Letterboxd:
Jigsaw is caught by Detective Mathews and his crew of police officers. All is well now, right? Wrong. Without even leaving his seat, a clearly dying Jigsaw points to a gated room and tells Mathews that he'll remain seated while he figures out "his problem in that room." A room full of computer monitors. Displayed by those monitors is a group of people trapped in a house and one of them is Mathew's teenage son. A house with a poisonous gas that is slowly killing them unless they find a way out in two hours.
One real life year after the first film we get a sequel. This is the beginning of a trend which the Saw franchise become an annual Halloween season release. This is something I never understood because this franchise has nothing to do with Halloween and very little to do with horror. It's a light horror / heavy suspense film. I was lucky enough to watch the Director's Cut but still don't know the difference between this and the original cut. One thing I do know is the terrible volume balancing makes a return. A device used by many horror movie creators during this era and something I have always hated. A cheap trick to get people on edge. Play a film at a default volume only to scare or mortify them with sudden loud clips of audible dreck.
Beverley Mitchell on the tail end of the successful 7th Heaven TV series is a gem in this film. She's the female counterpart to Donnie Wahlberg in this instance. Tobin Bell cements himself as one of the biggest horror icons of the 2000s in his Jigsaw role. A cancer ridden man with a warped sense of moral judgement. He has nothing to live for and if he dies he's totally ok with that. It absolves him of his daily pain. How can you retaliate against a man who has nothing? Even his time is borrowed and running out. The Puerto Rican Deebo is hilarious too. If you saw Friday you'll know exactly who I am talking about.
Leigh Whannell is one of the greatest horror/thriller writers from the 2000s/2010s. The man helped pen not only the foundation of the Saw franchise, but also the Insidious films, and Dead Silence. His directing credits cover some films in those franchises as well as last year's hit The Invisible Man and he is set to direct the remake of Escape From New York. Saw II offers an interesting spin on the plot of the original film but it's the beginning of the annual beating of a dead horse that never seems to end.