I will admit to anyone who asks, I am a fan of the Saw Franchise. However, the last Saw film that I truly enjoyed was “Saw VI” back in 2009. Since then, “Saw 3D: The Final Chapter”, “Jigsaw”, and “Spiral: From the Book of Saw” have been released to much, including my own disappointment. That streak has been broken September 2023. The night I saw a new direction in the Saw franchise with “Saw X.”
Kevin Greutert directs “Saw X” after editing six other films and directing “Saw VI” and “Saw 3D.” The only film he didn’t have his hands in was “Spiral.” The tone, colors, sets and traps are all beautifully shot and he did a tremendous job making us care for John Kramer. Set between the events of “Saw” and “Saw II”, the new film did go back to that era’s color grading, however the story couldn’t be further from any film before it. John Kramer aka Jigsaw is seen as the protagonist and we learn of him having brain cancer and finding a possible miracle cure in Mexico City. He has the “procedure” done, but finds out that he’s been duped and the medical team stole his money without touching his head. With the help of Amanda, played by returning regular Shawnee Smith, John takes aim at his next victims in tortuous games. The doctors who tried to scam him.
So that’s the setup, but how is it different than previous entries? The first 30-45 minutes very much feel like an A24 character study. We learn about John Kramer, not Jigsaw in flashbacks, but John and how he interacts with people. It is a kick in the ass that this series needed and it fits between “Saw” and “Saw II” seamlessly.
The traps are what you come to expect in a Saw movie. However these are well shot, edited and plenty gory. Some suspension of disbelief is definitely required, just like the fact that Shawnee Smith looks nothing like she did the last time she played Amanda. I mean, seriously, how did a cancer patient and a lady put together some of this, but I digress.
In the end, what “Saw X” leaves me with is a satisfaction that Tobin Bell carried that movie on his back and was brilliant. I wish the team would’ve gone to this idea sooner, rather than giving us the drivel that was “Jigsaw” and “Spiral.” It was so good and, oddly emotional, to see Shawnee Smith back as Amanda. There is a mid-credits scene that fans of the franchise will love and leaves a “to be continued…?”
4 out of 5 stars.