Saw X Review: This Twisted Game of Life and Death is Worth Playing
Long oscillating between the grotesque and the philosophical, with “Saw X,” the tenth installment in this long-running series, we find ourselves once again in the labyrinthine moral universe of John “Jigsaw” Kramer, portrayed with a gravelly gravitas by Tobin Bell. The film takes us on a journey from the sterile confines of a hospital to the vibrant chaos of Mexico City, offering a narrative that is as much about the human condition as it is about the traps that rip it apart.
The film’s opening act is a departure from the franchise’s usual fare, focusing on Kramer’s struggle with terminal brain cancer. It’s a somber introduction that almost tricks us into thinking we’ve stumbled into a different genre altogether. Director Kevin Greutert, a veteran editor of the series, commits to this tonal shift with a sincerity that is both surprising and refreshing. However, the film eventually reverts to its roots, plunging us into a world of diabolical traps and moral quandaries. The transition is not entirely seamless; one moment Kramer is too weak to stand, and the next, he’s engineering complex traps in a secret clinic in Mexico City. The inconsistency is jarring but not entirely unforgivable, given the film’s later redeeming qualities.
“Saw X” offers a more nuanced narrative, albeit one that still revels in its own sadism. The film lacks the “drooling-dog irony” of the series’ best kills, but it compensates with a focus on character development and moral complexity. The traps are less about gratuitous gore and more about the choices they force upon their victims, a theme that has been a cornerstone of the franchise but is particularly emphasized here.
“Saw X” flirts with social commentary, critiquing the healthcare system and big pharma, although it stops short of fully committing to this narrative thread. It’s a missed opportunity that doesn’t entirely derail the film’s ambitions.
In the end, “Saw X” is a film that knows its audience and its limitations. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but tweaks it just enough to keep it rolling a little longer. For a franchise that has often been dismissed as “torture porn,” this installment makes a valiant attempt to be something more, even if it doesn’t always succeed.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5.
Saw X is now playing in theaters.