BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION
FOR PUBLICATION: AT WILL DATE: 05/13/2021
FILM EVALUATION BY Richard Roeper
“SPIRAL: FROM THE BOOK OF THE SAW” Two stars Zeke ………… Chris Rock Marcus ………. Samuel L. Jackson William …….. Max Minghella Capt. Garza ….. Marisol Nichols
Lionsgate is presenting a film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and written by Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger. Rated R (for sequences of gruesome bloody violence and torture, ubiquitous language, some sexual cues, and brief drug use). Running time: 93 minutes. Opens in theaters Thursday.
Oh, right there is your killer.
We’re not that deep into the sloppy and bloody torture porn crime trial “Spiral: From the Book of Saw” when a certain character is doing a certain thing that seems unimportant to everyone else in the room, but an obvious “tell” is. For the audience we have our killer. There is no other reason for this character to do this one thing.
Not that figuring out who the unit is always spoils a movie. After all, there are only a small handful of suspects in most crime fiction, and even if we narrowed it down to one or two candidates early on, if we watch a well-crafted story we can still enjoy the trip. Unfortunately, the ninth installment in the “Saw” franchise doesn’t meet these standards. Despite the usual depraved creativity of the psychotic mastermind who carried out a string of murders, a few darkly hilarious moments, and a top-notch cast under the direction of Chris Rock, “Spiral” lives up to its name. It morphs down into a ridiculous, seedy horror story that’s more about berating audiences than providing a compelling reason for this long-running franchise to chug on and leave a trail of blood.
This is Darren Lynn Bousman’s fourth “Saw” movie, and he knows exactly how to stage those infamous scenes where an invisible, creepy-sounding monster kidnaps a target and straps them into an insanely intricate device and a “game.” “in which the victim has to choose between such amusing consequences as serious injuries, killing someone else or just the devil with it and the death of a gruesome death. Within the first 10 minutes, “Spiral” actually identifies itself as a combo record from three genres:
– It’s definitely a “Saw” movie with an opening scene that dares us to look at the screen when we see a man trapped in a device on a subway track that is giving him the Choice is to cut his own tongue or train one to turn him into human lasagna.
– It’s also a Chris Rock comedy vehicle. The first time Rocks Detective Zeke Banks hits the screen, he delivers a fun, nervous riff on “Forrest Gump,” which sounds like something straight out of a stand-up special.
– And it’s a cop film riddled with clichés, as the next scene shows, in which the undercover cop Zeke the riot of his boss, Capt. Angie Garza (Marisol Nichols), who reads yelling at him not to be a team player and they can’t have that anymore – and the city is about to boil over during this heatwave – and the whole thing is such an obvious homage / rip off of the original ” Beverly Hills Cop “” We halfway expect Rock and Nichols to turn to the camera and bow when it’s over.
As for the alleged conspiracy in “Spiral,” someone kidnaps, tortures, and kills police officers – all from Zeke’s district – in the twisted style of the late and unacclaimed Jigsaw, who was killed by a bunch of films before, but has one Series inspired by students and imitators. The killer continues to send file drives with video clues and terrible “souvenirs” such as severed fingers and limbs to Zeke, who has teamed up with rookie detective William Schenk (Max Minghella) against his wishes, also because no one else will work with them Zeke after dropping off a dirty cop a dozen years ago. Zeke’s only true ally is his father, Marcus (Samuel L. Jackson), the legendary former police chief. (Director Bousman seems to have a thing for Pulp Fiction, given the cast of Jackson, a visual reference to Jules and Vincent, and Rock’s character named Ezekiel, as in Ezekiel 25:17. The Way of the Righteous Man is harassed from all sides … “).
One by one, police officers from the same district are mugged and usually knocked unconscious before waking up and finding themselves in elaborate devices that must have taken months to build (imagine the testing process alone). The invisible Jigsaw wannabe reminds them of their corrupt behaviors and then explains exactly how they will die – unless they take action that “only” leads to mutilation or paralysis, but enables them to live. Meanwhile, Zeke tries to piece together Jigsaw’s puzzle, which often leads him on a wild goose hunt before Zeke finds out, usually too late to make any difference. We know we’re nearing one final confrontation where Zeke will see each other face-to-face, or at least face-to-face, with this latest jigsaw knockoff, and we know the ending will almost certainly leave the door still open another “Saw” movie – and this prospect is just tired.
Minireview: “Spirale: From the Book of the Saw” (Horror, R, 93 minutes). Despite the usual corrupted creativity, a few darkly hilarious moments, and a top-notch cast led by Chris Rock, this latest installment of torture porn, “Saw,” ultimately turns into a ridiculous, shabby horror story. Rating: two stars.
(EDITOR: If you have editorial questions, contact Josh Peres, jperes (at) amuniversal.com.)
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