Saw X | Review by: Amanda Guarragi


The Saw franchise has always been under a moral code from John Kramer (Tobin Bell). He only harmed those who have done terrible things or are horrible people. Over the years, the franchise has suffered balancing morally challenging backstories for their characters and the gore. The early Saw films did have a good structure. The characters were linked to Kramer and the game that he had built. But once they got away from the original trilogy, the stories grew weaker. And it became more about the kills. The Saw films do have pretty inventive kills that make each film memorable. And Saw X is no different. This film takes place between Saw 1 and Saw 2. It explores the brain cancer John Kramer was diagnosed with. The Saw continuity has never been the greatest, but this chapter aligns with this particular placement. 

Co-writers Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger take a hit at those who work in pharmaceuticals. Some independent doctors want what is best for their patients and develop a new medicine that could cure them. They show a weak John Kramer, who has found solace in group meetings with other cancer patients. Kramer was always older when he began constructing these games, but it was still odd to see him weak. He plans on fighting for his life. He finds a doctor through a friend who is doing trials on cancer patients. Kramer flies to Mexico for this experimental medical procedure in exchange for $250,000. The second he steps foot in Mexico, the entire operation feels suspicious. Kramer uncovers that there was no operation and that these doctors conned him for his money. 

This is the first time audiences will side with Kramer and ultimately root for him. The story is straightforward, and the connection to Kramer is there. Once Kramer captures the doctors and nurses who performed the surgery, he expresses that they have taken innocent people and toyed with their hopefulness at being clear of the cancer. Cecilia Penderson (Synnøve Macody Lund) is responsible for this scam. She rightfully becomes enemy number one in this story as she counters Kramer’s moral code of murdering people. She questions his principle for killing because he doesn’t do it himself. She is stealing money from people who are dying without any remorse. Director Kevin Greutert builds tension with each kill, and as editor of the project, he created such tight-knit scenes under the time crunch. 

There was a specific order that Kramer had for the games. And, of course, he kept a trick under his sleeve just in case anything went wrong. Kramer wanted them to understand the value of life. That’s why he put them through each trap. If you’re willing to fight for your own life, why should that be different than fighting for someone else’s? The deceit is what sent Kramer spiralling into the construction of these traps. Each trap was a representation of the roles these people played in surgery. By the end, you are rooting for Kramer because of his perception of good and evil. And in a twisted way, he has always done what was morally right. Bell delivers one of his better performances from the franchise. This is one of the best Saw films in years. 

Saw X starts slow and takes the time to reintroduce John Kramer. There are plenty of surprises in this film. Even though it feels like a change of pace for the franchise, it’s a refreshing character piece on Kramer. The focus is on Kramer for a change and adds much-needed depth to the character after all these years. He returns to the title of “architect,” and we see how the gears begin to turn in his mind. He utilizes his environment in this film and constructs the perfect traps for his victims. The traps are more detailed, and the way everything unfolds because of those traps makes a riveting finale. The ending is unexpected and casts John Kramer in a different light. 


Review by: Amanda Guarragi 

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