Chapter 9 in the Book of Saw has little to show for itself apart from a toothless franchise cranking out a familiar tune. What were they thinking? A Saw film without John Kramer is about as useless as the guy in the first row laughing at the pre-show antics of Flo and the Progressive Insurance gang. Admittedly, Jigsaw left this earth in Saw 3, but that's never stopped him from making appearances in all the sequels. Until now. For our main attraction there's producer and star Chris Rock, miscast as a police detective hollering every other sentence as if it were a punch line in a stand-up routine. The opening round of tongue extracting followed by Rock's concise autopsy of Forrest Gump provided the biggest kicks in this horror thriller cum T.V. police procedural. (CSI: Saw.) Not only did Tobin Bell sit this one out, for the first time the killer is not one of Jigsaw's satellites doing their master's bidding. Another old saw: Max Minghella plays the rookie detective forced to partner with Rock's Dirty Harry. And as Rock's dad, Samuel L. Jackson comes off just slightly lazier than Lee Marvin reading cue cards on a Bob Hope special. Was veteran Saw auteur (Saw-teur?) Darren Lynn Bousman that determined to drag the story in another direction that he lost sight of the film's original appeal? Apparently so. (2021) — Scott Marks
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