For fans of the deathtrap-redemption horror series and its central figure, John "Jigsaw" Kramer (Tobin Bell) — and realistically, only the diehards are buying tickets at this point — there's good news and there's bad news. On the plus side, Saw V director David Hackl, who conceived most of the elaborate contraptions in prior installments, brings an enthusiasm to the table that Darren Lynn Bousman (Saws II-IV) seemed to have lost last time around. He also smartly reverts to the Saw II formula of a cooperative series of traps for a group of five victims that plays like a reality show from hell, here interspersed with the search for the late Jigsaw's new protégé, revealed in part IV to be Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor). Unfortunately, both Mandylor and Scott Patterson, who returns as fellow Saw IV survivor Agent Strahm, are uninteresting stiffs; worse still are the flashbacks that retroactively place Hoffman in numerous key scenes from the first three films, completely undercutting the relationship between Jigsaw and former protégée Amanda (Shawnee Smith) that was once the heart of the story. The method to the madness of the traps turns out to be quite clever, but the rewriting of Saw mythology is the slasher equivalent of revising Star Wars so that Greedo fires at Han Solo first.
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