Shot in "heart-pounding 3D" comes the final chapter of an increasingly tedious sadomasochistic exercise which originally took audiences by surprise in 2004 when cinema blossomed with unexpected cruelty (thanks to Mel Gibson a remake of a famous zombie flick).
Saw 3D stars Tobin Bell, Cary Elwes, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell, and Sean Patrick Flannery where the viewer gets more of an opportunity to delight in the death traps - "live or die, make your choice".
A posthumous John Kramer (Jigsaw, of course) is the didactic, malevolent marionette of a presence with successors like Mandylor's Lt. Hoffman handling the instructions of a mass executioner via the gruesome, lurid, elaborate game. The design over the last six years around Halloween for torture porn enthusiasts has been for the victims to account for their transgressions with a possible "rebirth" depending on the outcome of his "game."
Recent installments have pandered to sustained violence of the inward kind, this time brought closer to eyeballs, but except for a couple scenes, the format again seems irrelevant. There is a devilish opening of a public viewing outside a department store which the rote direction and storyline tries to punctuate with epidermal or jaw-dropping visceral glee.
Returning scribes focus on the crucible for one Bobby Dagen (Flannery - does one remember him Powder?), touched by the creepy moralizing, enough so to be a self-help guru and go on a book tour.
Of course, Jigsaw's widow (Betsy Russell) is along for new impediments for economic-ripe real estate for Bobby to partake in a beat-the-clock scenario with the fate of those professionally and personally close to him hanging in the balance.
Ultimately, Saw 3D can't heat up with any fiendish originality or just a bit of humanistic wit in a series that has hardly been a stepping stone for anyone associated with it. What's lazy and not that conniving or persuasive as Detective Gibson (Chad Donella) seems numb to all the carnal shredding he and he colleagues survey.
In this conclusion of diminishing returns which relies too often on overlapping and flashbacks, a steely, portentous Bell has at least one legitimate spooky scene. Elwes ends up being the real scene-stealer to bring the nasty cycle full circle through the edgy self-amputated Dr. Gordon.