(This article contains some spoilers for “Spiral: From the Book of Saw”)
I would say that, overall, “Spiral: From the Book of Saw” is a worthy successor for the “Saw” franchise. If you’re gonna insist on making one of these that doesn’t follow up on any of the stuff from the original seven, this is a good way to go about it. Because it really is “Saw,” but in a new way.
But despite that, and despite the fact that “Spiral” was directed by Darren Lynn Bousman — who directed three previous “Saw” movies — the film makes a pretty glaring factual error. Midway through the film, one of the cops wonders aloud if this is another Jigsaw disciple. Chris Rock’s character, Detective Zeke Banks, doesn’t buy it.
“John Kramer never targeted cops,” Banks says, referring to the original Jigsaw killer played by Tobin Bell.
This is categorically not true, as Bousman himself should know. Two of the three previous “Saw” movies he directed, “Saw II” and “Saw IV,” were literally about Jigsaw targeting cops.
The thing that people remember most about “Saw II” is probably the big game at the center of it, with a big group of people who were trapped in a big house full of classic “Saw” traps. But the main character was Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg). His son was a player in that game — and everyone else had been put in jail by Detective Matthews.
Jigsaw tells Matthews early on that all he needs to do to get his son back safely is to listen to his manifesto for a bit. But Jigsaw was playing a trick, making Matthews think his son’s game was happening at the moment — but actually it was already long over, his son safe and sound inside a safe in the room Matthews was sitting in.
But Matthews, not understanding that Jigsaw was doing a game on him too, forced the issue and ended up being stuck in the custody of the Jigsaw Family himself for the next two movies. And eventually he finds himself part of a game with a different cop at the center: SWAT officer Daniel Rigg (Lyriq Bent).
Rigg and Matthews are pals — Rigg is a supporting player in “Saw II” — and Jigsaw promises Rigg he’ll get Matthews back if he succeeds at his own test. But that test, another Jigsaw riddle among an endless spiral of them, necessitates that Rigg not take action. Jigsaw wants to teach him a lesson about not rushing into situations he doesn’t understand.
Rigg fails, and both and Matthews die because of it.
On top of all that, Jigsaw is responsible for several other cop deaths, including Danny Glover’s character in the original film. These ones weren’t part of a game as we know it, but he definitely was responsible for those deaths.
Remember, the director of “Spiral” was also in charge for those two movies. He definitely should know about this stuff.
That said, this line isn’t necessarily a mistake on the part of the writers or Bousman. It could be an intentional slip, though it’s tough to guess what the point of doing that would be. Aside from the mention of the various Jigsaw disciples — there are at least five of them we haven’t seen die yet — and a picture of one of the dead players from the house in “Saw II,” there aren’t any other concrete references to the events of the previous movies. So it’s tough to calculate what the in-universe context might be for Banks to make that error.
Because of that, it does feel like a filmmaking goof. But hey, “Spiral” is pretty short at just 95 minutes. Maybe an extended cut on home video will shed some more light on this.