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Spiral – From the Book of Saw Reinvents the Series With Mixed Results!

Spiral: From the Book of Saw (hereafter simply referred to as “Spiral”) is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman. The film stars Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisol Nichols, and Max Minghella.

Detective Zeke Banks is the son of a retired and esteemed police offer, teaming up with a rookie partner to take on a case when police officers begin being killed as part of the “games” of a sadistic killer eerily reminiscent of the Jigsaw Killer of the past. Who is the killer, and what is their motive?

When I first heard about this movie and knowing what series it was going to be a part of, I was a bit surprised by the inclusion of Chris Rock as the star, as rock is largely known for raunchy comedy and not more dramatic/suspenseful roles. Spiral has potential, and Rock rises above preconceived notions in the film, managing to play a surprisingly strong role that juggles gritty dramatic elements with the expected comedic moments, being a surprise stand out here. Unfortunately, the film’s narrative structure is sloppy and it can’t quite decide what kind of a movie it wants to be, coupled with a frustratingly abrupt (and unsatisfying) ending.

Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021) - Rotten Tomatoes

While I way have mixed feelings on the film at large, I won’t deny the quality of Chris Rock’s performance. For years I’ve seen this guy give some of the most hilarious comedy specials and film roles that there are. What’s amazing about his performance is how he hits the high notes in the more dramatic and gripping moments of the film. From delivering a monologue on how lovable and kind a person Forrest Gump is to struggling with his relationship with his estranged police chief father, every scene with Rock in it makes the movie worthwhile. You’ll wish the movie focused more on his character than the killings and torture.

The rest of the movie doesn’t fare as well. It can’t decide if it wants to go the torture porn route or stand as a statement against police corruption. Characters die and are largely forgotten (the first casualty is properly mourned, but after that the remaining deaths feel more like statistics). Because the film compromises on these visions, it never quite succeeds in either category. Even a strong supporting cast quite save the day.

I would have loved to get a cop drama starring Chris Rock dealing with his efforts to battle police corruption or a Saw series spin-off, but the end product here is just an uneven compromise of the two, and never quite lives up to its potential. It’ll make a decent weekend rental when it eventually hits home video formats. You don’t need to rush to the theater, although Rock’s performance is an undeniable highlight.

Rating: Two stars out of four.

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By Taylor Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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