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Linden’s Cut: ‘Saw X’: the best film in a long-running franchise

Rose Donnelly

It is hard for a franchise to reach a tenth installment and it is even harder to be the best in the franchise when the previous installments received either mixed or negative reviews from critics. While “Saw X” could’ve been poorly received, the film manages to avoid that trap.

“Saw X” is directed by Kevin Greutert (“Saw VI” “Saw: The Final Chapter”) and is set between the events of “Saw” and “Saw II.” It focuses on John Kramer (Tobin Bell) as he travels to Mexico City, hoping for a cure for his ever growing brain cancer after finding out he only has months to live. Upon reaching Mexico City, the entire operation is revealed to be a scam and Kramer decides to teach those responsible a lesson by placing them in deadly traps to ruthlessly test their will to live.

When “Saw” came out in 2004, it received a mixed reaction from critics but was very successful with audiences and at the box office, generating over $100 million worldwide. Since then several sequels have been released. Although I haven’t seen every installment, I really liked the first “Saw” and enjoyed “Saw II” and “III” with “Spiral” being decent and “Jigsaw” giving me mixed opinions. When I heard that “Saw X” was the first in the franchise to receive generally positive reviews from critics, I got excited to see it especially after seeing a sneak peak of one of the traps involving an eye vacuum. After having seen “Saw X,” I can happily say it is the best installment of the franchise thus far.


The biggest highlight of this film and the franchise is Tobin Bell’s performance as John Kramer as he finally gets the spotlight as the main character after being a supporting character in the past. His character is given a lot more depth while also being smart, cunning, and clever. Kramer isn’t just known as the Jigsaw Killer, he is a broken man dealing with not only terminal brain cancer and a dark past, but being scammed from a situation that was supposed to save his life so it is really satisfying to see him do what he does best: putting these douchebags through grisly torture.

Every “Saw” film has the one thing that gets people excited: the traps. The traps are the essential reason why people watch the “Saw” movies. They are gruesome, intense, creatively violent, and nicely tied to the plot. All of the traps are related to a victim’s flaw in some capacity. The traps are described to the person that they must graphically harm themselves in order to survive or their life will end in a nasty death. They also have to complete the task within a very limited time period. Usually, the time period is 60 seconds. My favorite traps from the previous installments include the Reverse Bear Trap and the Razor Wire Maze in the first “Saw”, the Venus Fly Trap in “Saw II”, and the Angel Trap in “Saw III”.

In “Saw X” the traps lived up to the previous ones. They are really good, bloody, creative and relate to the victims quite well. My favorite trap without going into too much detail involves a leg and a wire and brain surgery. Both don’t end very well for the victim.

The film also has some emotion put into it, particularly a scene where Kramer explains to the victims why they are going through this. His reasonings, while depraved, are completely understandable and make the audience able to root for him. It is also nice to see Shawnee Smith reprising her role as Amanda, who became John’s apprentice after she survived the iconic reverse bear trap in the first “Saw” movie.

In terms of issues, it does fall into one trap that plagues the others: the rapid editing during the traps. Whenever a victim is forced to play a part in the trap, the editing will go really fast, and while I can appreciate the editing for making the scenes more intense, sometimes it just comes off as unnecessary. I was able to see what was going on, but the rapid editing can disorient the audience. The editing doesn’t take away from the plot, but it can turn off some viewers.

Aside from a few minor issues, “Saw X” is a welcoming entry in the franchise. Stick around for the mid-credit scene that is sure to get a positive response. “Saw X” earns an A-.

Commentary writer Linden Lansberry can be reached at [email protected].

If you would like to submit a reaction to a piece, Letter to the Editor or other submission, please send it to commentary editor Price Wilborn at [email protected] or [email protected].

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