Continuing on with its story despite the death of namesake killer Jigsaw in the third installment, SAW V concerns itself with detailing who will carry on with his bloody work. Director David Hackl, the production designer on the previous three films, retains their familiar charnel house look. Though there are fewer grisly death sequences, faithful viewers will enjoy the creative plot twists. The film opens with a man strapped to a table above a pendulum. As the sharp blade begins swinging over his stomach, he has only a minute to stop it by inserting his hands into a device that will crush them. When the machine malfunctions, it's clear that it wasn't the work of the meticulous Jigsaw. Meanwhile, FBI Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) continues the investigation he began in the previous film, only to wake up to find himself wearing a glass helmet filled with water. With a minimum of self-mutilation, he escapes and continues his investigation with the hunch that Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) is somehow involved in the new rash of killings. Before long, a new group of strangers wakes up in Jigsaw's lair to face a series of brutal tests, and Jigsaw's ex-wife, Jill, is given a mysterious box at the execution of his will.
An enormously popular and critic-proof series, SAW gives its fans what they want--creatively executed blood and guts. The fifth installment in as many years, SAW V is more subdued in that department, but the sequences it does contain deliver the goods. Several lengthy flashbacks also allow Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) to make a few appearances. While SAW V isn't the place for beginners to start, those who have stuck with the story this far will find it a fitting entry, happy that SAW VI is just around the bend.
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