The advertising promises "You won't believe how it ends," but the problem with Saw V isn't so much its ending, it's everything that comes before. Oddly toothless, the entire flick feels like it exists solely as preamble for Saw VI. The greatest tension I felt was waiting for the movie to begin. I kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and then the end credits began to roll and I realized the movie had, in fact, ended. As one of the characters says, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
The last installment, Saw IV, was both an origin story and a mild-tempered reboot of the series. Writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton (Feast) endeavored to provide deeper motivation for the Jigsaw Killer, AKA John Kramer (Tobin Bell), by introducing his ex-wife, Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell), and explaining that it was her tragic miscarriage years in the past that eventually set him on his deadly path. Jigsaw died at the end of Saw III, so Saw IV also had to resurrect him somehow, which was achieved by making the events of Saw IV concurrent with those of Saw III and introducing a new successor, Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), to carry on Jigsaw's "work."
Got that? I know, it's already way too complicated, which is one of the reasons Saw IV was such a drag; it felt like a dry police procedural interrupted by brief scenes of screaming torture. But hold on, because Saw V insists on revisiting the events of the first four films, this time inserting Jigsaw's successor as he is trained for the work ahead. I felt like I was watching Forrest Gump or Zelig, with some fictional phony inserted into historical events.