Let’s watch the ninth Saw film.

The Saw franchise will break double digits if they release another entry into the story (they will). It is somewhat odd to watch a movie two films after The Final Chapter was released. It would appear they lied to us.

Spiral marketed itself to be a new spin (sorry for the pun) on the Saw franchise. We would be following Detective Zeke Banks (Chris Rock) as he hunted for a new copycat killer. I conjured images of a film more like Se7en, but instead we just get another Saw entry.

Zeke turned in a bad cop years before and now lives as the departmental pariah. The police interactions here remind me of a movie from the 1990s (about the only thing this film does similar to the better dramas it is lifting from). The blue wall of silence is a real issue, but here it is almost to the point of absurdity. The corrupt officers ooze corruption and Zeke seems to stand alone against the tide of immorality. Unfortunately, we aren’t given enough time to get to know anyone well enough.

We know that Zeke is going through a divorce, had a rough relationship with his father, dislikes his colleagues, and is a bit of a loose cannon. This sort of paint-by-numbers police hero worked better in the 80s and 90s when we weren’t used to more textured characters. The writers didn’t seem to know what to do with Zeke, so we get one awkward scene with his soon-to-be ex-wife and never see her again. What was the purpose here?

As our new pig-masked killer targets dirty cops the precinct goes all in on finding the killer—until they don’t. The problem with Saw has always been that it relies on people being entirely too predictable. The dirty cop doesn’t like Zeke, so he won’t call for backup. Does that make sense? Does that make sense when going against a cop-killing lunatic who appears to have advanced skills in trapping and engineering? Of course not, but the film relies on the stupidity and predictability of the characters.

The film also seems to believe that the audience is likewise stupid. We get multiple flashbacks of scenes in the movie, some within minutes of the initial event. There is no credibility or faith given to the audience’s ability to follow along here. Granted, we are watching the ninth film in the series, so they may have something there. Regardless, I found it to be insultingly heavy-handed with what in the end was a mostly predictable mystery.

I suppose the real question is how does it fare as a Saw film? Fine, I guess. I think you could put this one up against 3-8 and find that it has the same level of quality. The kills are gory, and the machinery used is still over the top (something I had wanted to see toned down—make it real). I’ve seen a lot of folks blast Rock as out of place in the film or whatever. He did fine. I love Rock as a comedian and thought he brought the appropriate level of drama here. However, no actor can overcome a boilerplate script.

Jumpy directing and color saturations from previous entries make their return. As does the final act reveal where everything is for nothing, and we’re left with another opening for another sequel.

If you had any hopes this entry would take the series somewhere new, I’m sorry to disappoint you. It is just another sequel, which if you’re a fan is great, if not…

Watch if you’re a fan.

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