Spiral is a film that I was very intrigued by. The idea of doing a spin-off of the Saw franchise with Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson was interesting to me. While this film features good performances for the most part and is higher quality than past Saw sequels, it still leaves you wishing it was better. The script is to blame for not fully living up to the promise of the trailers.
The trailers lead you to believe that this has a lot more prestige than the average Saw film and in reality this is only slightly better than that. I admire the effort to uplift the material, who knows maybe if they get a sequel to this then they’ll smooth over the rough edges and do a better job.
In my opinion, Marisol Nichols is actually the strongest cast member. Nichols plays the captain of the police department and she brings a sternness to the part that works very well. It’s refreshing to see a woman at the helm of a police force, that’s not the usual in films. Max Minghella is the second strongest, he plays the rookie that’s assigned to Chris Rock’s character. Minghella’s performance is skilled and he definitely brings you to care about his character which is important to the plot. I’d like to see more from him.
Samuel L. Jackson is very good here per usual, but his screen time is pretty limited, to be honest. If you’re going to see this for Jackson then you’ll probably be let down because he’s for sure a supporting character. As far as the lead goes, Chris Rock does a pretty good job most of the way through but I have to say that there are a couple scenes where his dramatic performance lacked. Several different times he stares into the camera in an odd way in order to convey intensity and it just doesn’t land. Other than those couple times though, his performance is good in all other ways.
Another positive is the direction and cinematography. There are many scenes that just look great and have impressive visuals. That’s something that is a definite improvement over the past films. I also really liked the way in which they chose to open Spiral. The opening sequence is suspenseful and proves to be an effective “grabber”.
The final two traps are interesting and creative too and actually aren’t terribly nauseating. The final one is especially creative and chilling because of the way in which it ties into the overall plot. The killer’s tapes are well done too and are effectively creepy. The pig puppets dressed in police uniforms are very eerie.
The ending to Spiral is very thrilling, it really packs a punch. I like that they leave you with an ending that’s like a gunshot. The last positive I want to mention is 21 Savages song he did for this film which plays with the end credits and suits the film very well.
The biggest flaw Spiral has attached to it is it’s script which isn’t able to deliver in the way it needs to. The film’s mystery isn’t as solid as it should be. The surface is scratched but the writers don’t dive as deep as they could have and that’s really a shame because this film had potential to be a good bit better than this final product. If they do in fact make a sequel to this then I hope they take what worked here and expound on it.
I applaud Spiral’s attempt to take this franchise and add some prestige to it and I also applaud this cast’s performances. If only this film dove deeper and took full advantage of it’s opportunity.
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