By Mark Ramsey | 2006/10/31

It’s a good thing Saw III’s poster represents the roman numerals as mangled teeth, because it correctly implies three down, twenty-nine to go.

Don’t let that Celine Dion love theme fool you, this is another in the annual series of Saw-and-Saw-agains that will continue until well after the cows have come home and the planet is ruled by simians.

“You maniacs! You blew it up!” screams Charlton Heston at the Statue of Liberty. “But,” adds Heston “at least Saw MMMDCLXXIV opens this weekend on the rubble of 3,200 screens nationwide.”

If ever you felt like Hollywood needed a franchise where movie characters who squander their life potential are taught a lesson by being forcibly ripped to shreds, Saw is the franchise for you.

This is what A Purpose-Driven Life would be if the book’s final sentence read “Oh, I give up; you will be ripped open, turned inside out, blown to bits, and fed to your pets within 60 seconds.”

“I want to play a game,” says “Jigsaw,” the Freddy Michael Chucky Jason of this Sawniverse. “It will include instruments of medieval torture and numerous quick cuts and shaky camera moves to make up for the fact that the sadistic gutting of no-name actors involves very little action and even less dialogue.”

Indeed, the faces on the mannequins at Penney’s are more familiar than these actors. The entire cast might as well be dressed in gray and bicycling around Beijing.

Worse than all that, Jigsaw is a kvetch.

“You are dead on the inside,” he lectures a soon-to-be victim, emerging groggily from a clunk to the head. “You identify more with a corpse than a living being.” Jigsaw is Dr. Laura with a garrote.

“Read my new book,” he adds, “Stupid things actors do when their alternative is to pitch toilet paper in a 30-second TV spot.”

Elaborate games are conceived where a simple crossword puzzle would do. Tests are designed to keep the audience on the edge of their seats – the same edge that contains their brains.

“Let the game begin,” says Jigsaw, as if lions are about to enter the coliseum and devour some Christians – not that I want to give the producers any ideas.

“A 25-foot ladder is placed against a vertical wall of a building,” says Jigsaw, “with the bottom of the ladder standing on concrete 7 feet from the base of the building. If the top of the ladder slips down 4 feet, then the bottom of the ladder will slide out… A) 4 feet B) 5 feet C) 6 feet D) 7 feet or E) 8 feet? Answer in ten seconds or your torso will be split in half, emptied of its contents, dried, and used as a punchbowl for a Republican fundraiser.”

Damn you, Jigsaw!

There’s a naked woman hanging in a freezing cold room with water being sprayed on her as she is literally turned to an ice cube. Notes director Darren Lynn Bousman: “If this were happening to a dog the movie would probably be unreleasable. Fortunately, it’s only a woman!”

That from a guy whose middle name is “Lynn.”

Saw III is Fear Factor with consequences. It would be a much better franchise if it featured more fear and fewer consequences. But quality isn’t the goal and Silence of the Lambs is not the model.

Stealing candy from a baby is.


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