Caught in a Trap


Spiral: From the Book of SawSPOILER WARNING! We saw this at the movie theater, something we hadn’t done in a while. Even before the pandemic, I can’t remember what the last thing was either of us saw at the movies. This was at the Alamo Drafthouse, and we ordered some overpriced snacks and all that. The film is the ninth Saw movie, and yes, we’ve seen all the others. It’s a sequel in that it acknowledges the events of the earlier films as having taken place, but doesn’t use any of the old characters. Even Jigsaw is relegated to a photograph and a few mentions. Chris Rock stars as a police detective, son of the retired Chief, who’s quite unpopular on the force due to having exposed a crooked cop who shot a witness. The new Chief assigns him his first partner in years, and puts him in charge of the investigation of a Jigsaw copycat who’s targeting cops. The new killer still has the recorded messages, the creepy dolls, the smug moral superiority, and the ridiculously elaborate traps; but the emphasis isn’t on the latter as much as it generally is in this franchise. In previous films, it’s established that Jigsaw’s traps are all supposed to be escapable (although I have to doubt that’s the case in practice, it’s at least what he seems to believe), while those who copy him will make ones fully intended to kill the victims. Here, it’s not entirely clear whether anyone is supposed to be able to escape, as no one does. I will say, however, that the plot is way less convoluted than other Saw movies, and works as a mystery story. I’ve heard that the film is anti-police, but I feel that it never takes that strong of a stand. It is true that the plot is largely focused on police corruption, and even the better cops do terrible things. Rock’s character, who’s supposed to be the most moral of the bunch, shoots a meth dealer in the leg to get information. But it also does the thing I’ve read about recently that a lot of recent movies do, where the villain has a totally valid point, but goes about things in such an obviously wrong and extreme way that it tarnishes his viewpoint by association. It’s not like I expected a movie about death traps to offer real solutions on police reformation, though. Samuel L. Jackson plays Rock’s character’s dad, and that’s no small potatoes (or hot gazpacho). There looked to be a few nods to his role in Pulp Fiction, as the security door at the police station was made by Jules & Vincent, and the film starts with people having humorous banter about movies before committing a crime.

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