Saw was passable but not all that and a bag of chips. The setup is brilliant: Cary Elwes and Leigh Whannell wake up in a dingy bathroom, chained at opposite sides of the room. They have no idea what they’re doing there. And they soon discover that one of them will need to kill the other, or horrible things will happen to his family.
It’s tense as hell. Really good. But then the movie gives up the claustrophobia and tension by going into extended flashbacks that take place outside the room. By the time Danny Glover has shown himself to be an incredibly inept cop, I’d more or less given up on the whole thing.
The last five minutes come pretty close to redeeming the whole thing, though; the final plot twist is beautifully planned and elegantly executed. Still… a lot of wasted potential. The core bit, two men chained in a puzzle room, that’s great. The consistent exploration of people who watch rather than act — that was good. But it wasn’t worth breaking the tension repeatedly by letting us think about something other than Elwes and Whannell.
I gave it a 3 on the rating card (out of five) — 1 point for setup, 1 point for being a movie, and 1 point for the conclusion.