‘JIGSAW’ (2017) SPOILER REVIEW – The Truth Will Set You Free
So the film has been out a while and there’s a bunch of stuff I wanted to talk about so better late than never I guess. And yes this will be full of spoilers so if you go beyond this point that means you’ve seen the film or just don’t care…. So lets start with the two biggest reveals of this 8th entry in the Saw franchise where the film does reuse two very familiar twists that we have seen in the previous films. The first reused twist is the ‘timeline twist’ in which the game and the investigation are occurring at different times, previously seen in Saw II. The second big twist is that they pull the ‘secret accomplice’ card for what is the 5th…. yes….. 5th time in the franchise. Seeing as though I personally didn’t predict the specifics about both of these twists that only speaks to how they were well integrated and revealed. Lets get into the first major twist that I knew had to be the case but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly how it was possible for a number of reasons.
So late in the film they shocked me with the sudden revealing of the man orchestrating the game we have been following the whole time to be THE John Kramer. They then proceed to explain that the game we have been watching is actually one that took place in the timeline sometime before all of the other Saw films, this explains why John is still alive and talking at the end of the movie. Pretty impressive execution if you ask me. Firstly, LONG before the reveal of John I knew that this game had to have taken place at some time before the investigation, but I initially believed this to be a recent time jump (maybe a few days) as the bodies turning up were still fresh and not decomposed at all. Now as soon as John first appeared and after I fucken composed myself from the awesomeness of seeing him alive I quickly made the connection that this trap HAD to be set over 10 years before the investigative scenes with Logan Nelson. I knew this for a number of reasons; A: John most definitely died so it couldn’t be set before then. B: John’s haircut and facial hair are specific to his appearance in flashbacks set prior to Saw I. But the big point I couldn’t explain that disputed this fact was how the bodies were turning up in a fresh state if the game was over 10 years ago.
This is explained of course by the fact that Logan had recreated the game in the exact same manner using three victims as oppose to five in order to prove that he was just as good at the craft as John was and to use the opportunity to kill and frame Halloran for his past crimes. And upon a second viewing there are a number of very cool uses of foreshadowing and small hints that elude to the fact that this trap is taking place well in the past. One is a very quick throwaway line about the saw blade cuts on the first victim containing rust, but if you remember the scene of the game itself the blades appeared brand new revealing this body must have been killed by the blades that have rusted with time. A very genius little detail. Then you have small things such as the scenes in the game containing those old Panasonic tape recorders and the fact that Jigsaw delivered his message to the FBI on a USB not a tape….. indicating a large time jump. Then you have the two TV’s that appear to be small flat screens, expensive at the time sure but not out of the realm of possibility that Jigsaw could acquire them. The one element I cannot firmly explain is the use of a Billy puppet whose eyes light up, this would go against all of the other Saw films where the puppet used has non-light up eyes. I believe this is just one of those stylistic filmmaking choices that was made because it looks cool and fans of continuity will just have to let it go.
Then we get to the second big twist revealing that it was in fact Logan Nelson who has been orchestrating the game set in the modern day and that not only was he a secret accomplice of Jigsaw but that he was actually a part of the game set in the past. So we learn that Logan was the one in the opening part of the game who failed to wake up in time for the game to start leading to him almost being killed. So essentially he survived the trap and went on to help Jigsaw begin his next game (or games) before possibly leaving to raise a family of his own. I loved the way they handle explaining his connection to Jigsaw, one detail bothered me initially, but on second thought it all made sense. This moment is where Jigsaw runs out and saves Logan because as Logan’s voiceover roughly states “he didn’t feel I should die over an honest mistake”. Now, I initially made the connection that this mistake he mentions is the mixing up of John’s x-ray results, and this didn’t sit well with me. Mainly because if John thought this mix-up was worth being tested over before the trap began he wouldn’t have suddenly had a change of heart as this is against his character. But then I made the connection that this mistake is likely referring to John’s own mistake of overdosing Logan leading to him not waking up in time to hear the rules and not getting a fair chance to survive. Being one of John’s first traps, this mistake is understandable and with this explanation I loved the way it was handled.
We then see that Logan ended up assisting John in building the original reverse bear trap which Amanda Young wears in the first Saw film, probably amongst a number of other traps that have never been seen in the other films. This reveals Logan as a temporary accomplice to John as it’s clear due to his absence in the previous seven films that he must at some point part ways. Logan helps John with some of his traps, John helps Logan move on from his PTSD of being in the war and everyone is happy. But then this detail still throws a tonne of chronology questions up in the air, not all of which I am sure of the answers yet.
Now bear with me for a bit because I am about to go full sweaty Saw nerd right here and probably confuse the shit out of myself in the process. So this game we see throughout this entire film most definitely takes place in the period BEFORE Amanda Young is abducted by John and definitely AFTER his suicide attempt. That much is absolutely certain. Now it is still unclear within this period of time whether this game is executed and Logan is bought on and relieved as an accomplice before of after Mark Hoffman came into the picture with his framing of John for the murder of Seth Baxter. The haircut and facial hair combo would imply this all happens after Hoffman is bought on as an accomplice as this combo is seen first in the chronology when Hoffman and John abduct Paul Leahy and not before that point. But the fact that there is no mention of Lucas to Hoffman or anyone else in the future it would bake more sense if he came, built the reverse bear trap, maybe helped on some other traps, and left ALL before Hoffman can on board. Plus this would mean that at the time of the barn game in this film Hoffman would be an accomplice at the time and I find it hard to believe he wouldn’t know about the game and assist in its setup.
Also Eleanor mentions at one point in her ‘studio’ that this is most likely one of, John’s earliest games (if not the earliest), one that was never discovered by police. So then this could place its setting before or just after John places Cecil in his trap, which is before Hoffman is introduced to John. So then the haircut and facial hair could be explained simply as maybe John went for that style briefly before he went after Hoffman, got rid of it, and then re-did his hair that way before abducting Paul. That or the haircut is just a minor continuity goof that doesn’t really matter. We also know that there are still many traps done by John that take place before Hoffman kills Seth Baxter. We know this because for Hoffman to be able to imitate a Jigsaw trap there has to have been enough prior examples of traps for him to know about the voice on the tapes, that John watches his traps unfold. Plus John has already been labeled ‘The Jigsaw Killer’ before he tracks down Hoffman. Now because we have only seen one of the traps that has taken place before Seth Baxter’s trap, that being Cecil’s trap, those other traps we know nothing about and could be absolutely anything. OR the haircut could be correct and this whole thing takes place after Hoffman, before Amanda, and for whatever reason the barn and Lucas were kept secret, creating a whole flurry of plot holes. So when considering all of the options, in my professional opinion, this game and Lucas’ involvement in helping John all takes place before Hoffman kills Seth Baxter. But we may never get confirmation on that, even if a Jigsaw sequel does come about.
Now for just a few smaller spoilery moments that are on my mind and I just gotta mention. So it is revealed through Mitch’s confession that the guy he sold a faulty motorbike to and ended up killing was in fact John Kramer’s nephew….. ok. We don’t hear anything about John’s family beyond Jill Tuck in any of the previous films so there is no evidence that he any but I guess they never mention that he doesn’t have any so it’s plausible that John really did have a nephew…… I guess….. Some other things I picked up on in my first viewing but that I was able to clear up on a second viewing were the inconsistencies with the game in the barn. The major inconsistency I couldn’t initially figure out was how the trap with Anna and Mitch in the grain storage really worked as it required Ryan to have his leg trapped in the wires in order to reach the lever. So if Ryan didn’t try to open the ‘No Exit’ door he wouldn’t have been able to find the lever and Mitch and Anna would have certainly died. I knew John was a genius when it comes to the fact that anticipating the human mind leaves nothing to chance, but it still seemed a little farfetched. That is until in my second viewing I realised the tape in the wire trap doesn’t say Ryan’s name, it is only when John starts speaking over the intercom that Ryan, Mitch, and Anna’s names are mentioned. Meaning this wasn’t Ryan’s game, it was just a side trap left for if someone tried to escape, and as John watched the whole trap play out he could alter his words depending on the decisions made.
This fact of John watching over the entire game explains a few things like how simply ejecting fluid from needles into Carly led to the steel collars being released. It also explains why some of John’s instructions required the victims to confess audibly to their crimes in order to survive. So any of those issues I had with the game were eradicated once I pieced all of the specifics of the game together.
So there we have it, that’s more or less all of the major moments in Jigsaw that I wanted to talk about but couldn’t mention in my regular review. You can find my regular non-spoiler review of the film HERE where you will also find my rating.