It's now been two sequels back since Jigsaw, the unlikely star of this – the original torture-porn series – expired on an operating table while his protégé(s) continued dicing and slicing various reprobates into so much human steak tartare. Keeping Rube Goldberg's evil twin Jigsaw (Bell) in the game – and the Saw
series has become nothing if not a game – has become a matter of which flashback to insert where and when. To their credit, writers Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan (Saw IV
) find plenty of screen time for their cadaverous dispenser of poetic justice. Unfortunately, only the most forgiving of fans will find this particularly convoluted outing more interesting than anything in previous installments. As series' tradition dictates, Saw V
opens with a cunningly devised bloodbath, and this time out the garish demise references The Pit and the Pendulum
. From there, however, the film becomes a sluggish police procedural, with returning FBI agent Strahm (Patterson) suddenly finding himself a victim of Jigsaw's morality-based madness. (It's times like this that we should all review the basics of battlefield tracheotomies.) Bloodied but unbowed, Strahm begins to suspect Jigsaw expert Detective Hoffman (Mandylor, back for a third time), who always seems to be at the right place at the wrong time, or vice versa. Simultaneously, a new series of potentially deadly traps (guillotines, bombs, yawning) have been set for a new cluster of victims – but, really, who cares apart from the characters themselves? The Saw
series is officially self-cannibalizing now, rehashing plot contrivances that felt oddly familiar the third time around and thoroughly unable to ratchet up the level of diabolic inventiveness that makes for the franchise's only real points of interest. Truly, the greatest torture of all is boredom.