The sequel inexplicable fulfills all the promises of the first film while abandoning everything at the same time.
Saw II more or less abandons the principled structure of the first film and goes for raw carnage instead. Everything is upped in this one—instead of two people we have a whole bunch, instead of one cop we have a whole bunch, and instead of one villain we have two. In a lot of ways this sequel gives people what they wanted from the first one, or at least what people thought they wanted. I still remember people complaining that Saw was not violent enough.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with gore, but this is just doing it see how graphic they can get. We follow Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Whalberg) who discovers his son has been kidnapped, and is trapped in a murder house with a bunch of people he falsely arrested. If they find out who he is, they will tear him to pieces (if the house doesn’t get to him first). Matthews finds Jigsaw, and interrogates the killer trying to discover the location of the home, but Jigsaw is anything but cooperative.
The stakes do feel higher in this one. We can see Matthews see his son in danger, and this is an effective tool. However, the film doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Saw II marks the turning point where Jigsaw goes from elaborate killer to supervillain. There is no way a sickly man and a young woman could create a murder house to the caliber in this film without taking many years (and drawing a lot of attention). There is also no way that Jigsaw could uncover this much police corruption independently. No one seems to think that Matthews is necessarily a horrible cop (brutal, sure, but not crooked), so how did this guy even get on Jigsaw’s radar?
Perhaps the worst part is we have a lot of criminals (some seem innocent aside from Matthews false testimony, so criminals might not be the best descriptor) put into the meat grinder to torment a detective. What happened to making people care about life? I guess sometimes you just half to kill about a dozen people to get your point across—I think that is written somewhere important.
The traps are larger, but I’m not sure I’d say they’re more impressive. A pit of dirty needles is indeed stomach churning, but it isn’t exactly original. A furnace that locks you inside is horrid, but once again, not new. The house itself, which seems to be an unescapable fortress that pumps poison into the air is the most impressive feat.
The film also abandons the mystery elements. Now, some will disagree here, but the film is no longer a mystery. Instead, it is a series of bait and switch. Think something is happening? Nope. Twist! There is no way to predict the twists as they simply come out of nowhere now.
If you’re looking for a quick jolt of adrenaline this one might do the trick. This is the weird one because it still has its mooring in the original. After this one, things start get to weird. If you haven’t seen it, this one isn’t too bad. 6/10.