Saw 2 is a typical Hollywood sequel - disappointing, contrived and detrimental to the first film. We find ourselves in the dark world of the Jigsaw killer once more as he seeks out new and more depraved ways to despatch people he doesn´t think are using their gift of life properly. Cue a standard formula where a bunch of people in a house are being killed off one by one as the bungling police race against time to find them.
The movie gets stuck straight in with a nasty Jigsaw scenario as an unfortunate conman awakes to find himself rigged up for a nasty game. We are instantly reminded of the first film as the scenario, grubby surroundings, and flashy frenetic camera work are a hair away from being identical to the original. This time the lead character is a dirty cop called Eric Matthews and when Jigsaw leaves a message for him at one of his crime scenes Matthews duly gets involved in the case. It doesn´t take long for them to decipher the obvious clue and catch Jigsaw although their entry into his factory of doom is pretty badly handled.
Jigsaw has set up an elaborate game for Matthews and the action cuts between his dozy captives in a mystery house as they battle to escape before the slow release nerve agent kills them and the police at Jigsaw´s factory who are desperately trying to trace the location of the mystery house. It transpires that Matthews´ son is one of the captives and so he gets understandably upset.
For the sequel they´ve gone a little further in their attempts to shock both in terms of the gore level and the gross out factor in the ideas involved. This doesn´t really have the intended effect and indeed the ideas here aren´t up to the same standard as in the first film. The main twist in the original was very well-handled and I didn´t see it coming, naturally for this sequel they felt obliged to try and repeat the feat but this time around they fail miserably. The plot is horrifically contrived, illogical and either predictable or just so unlikely you´d never guess.
The director is newcomer Darren Lynn Bousman and he also claims writing credits. The direction is actually very similar to the first film but Bousman is not quite as good as the similarly untested Wan. This is slick enough but there are very few scares or jumps and he has an irritating habit of including montage scenes which re-show things you´ve just watched not ten minutes ago. At the end of the film he does a horrible mega-montage which is like the entire film condensed into five minutes - it is awful and unnecessary, although it might have been nice if they´d released it instead of the full feature and saved me the extra wasted hour or so.
There are some familiar faces amongst the cast with Tobin Bell resuming his jigsaw character, although he has more to do here than in the first film. Shawnee Smith also reappears as the unfortunate Amanda from the first film. Then there´s Donnie Wahlberg as Matthews the miserable cliched cop and Dina Meyer as his hard-ass associate Kerry. No one really stands out as the acting overall screams mediocre and slips into rotten at times.
Saw was an entertaining horror film and you could forgive the flaws as it romped along at quite a pace. Despite the cliches there was enough to make it feel fresh and this is the problem with Saw 2, it doesn´t feel fresh, it feels like any other brainless Hollywood release. The characters are thin, the direction fails to strike the note it is aiming for and the plot is nonsensical drivel. The tagline for Saw 2 is "We dare you again" well I dare them not to make another sequel, let´s hope they take up the challenge.