Saw V 

The Saw movies started coming out around the same time as the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Now both are looking to be pretty losing propositions. With Saw V, even the gorehound viewers will have to admit that the blades are looking pretty dull. The serial killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell in flashbacks) actually died a few movies back; here we find that, all along, he had a hidden accomplice, a vigilante-leaning police detective named Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), who finds that a fellow officer, Strahm (Scott Patterson), managed to emerge wounded but alive from the ensemble massacre at the climax of Saw IV. With Strahm suspecting the worst of Hoffman from the outset, the two go after each other. In a parallel plotline, five further Jigsaw captives wake up in one the killer’s customized dungeons. Each had some role in a shady building department deal in the nameless grunge-noir metropolis where these flicks take place, and the victims face an obstacle course of torture pitfalls. The series is worn out, the shocks are shopworn and the grisly engines of death aren’t even all that imaginative anymore. Part Five is starting to seem a lot like those Dr. Phibes movies that Vincent Price once made, minus the camp humor and the class. We’re also left with abundant loose ends and foreshadowing to be picked up in Saw VI. Like Iraq, this profiteering exercise in violence and death lacks an exit strategy. H 1/2

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