Experience Vitals: Netflix DVD.
I'm typically a bit forgiving with the Saw franchise because, argue if you will, it's been a pretty solid long-running franchise. Watch the first seven offerings of either Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street and I think it would be clear that the Saw films have remained comparatively strong. (Here come the pivotal conjunction!) But, that being said, this finale is not only an ultimate flop but a decidedly strange flop.
Halfway through the opening sequence, I assumed it had to be a dream, but, no, it wasn't; and it became clear that the movie intended it to be real and not a device of trickery toward a dreamlike intimations either. Of course, one has to keep in mind that this is another movie made for 3D (which explains the blood-splattered opening credits and various in-your-face elements), but the polished, almost fantastic opening scene didn't fit with the rest of the movie or the entire franchise's modus operandi for that matter. Maybe I missed something, but this opener seemed like more of the recent stock of thrills for the sake of thrills, especially found in 3D movies (I'm thinking of the Final Destination finale, for example).
From there the movie is just bananas. It reminds me of a postmodernism novel where the structure is a plot assembled around a pastiche of events related and/or unrelated events, which, I mean, no problem. I can deal with that, but it has to be done well. Saw VII feels largely unorganized, and I think the filmmakers were hoping to chalk it up to nascent instability and thus more frenetic and hastier than usual. Fine, but these traps were far more aggrandized than previous traps. Tedious, intricate traps, requiring time and precision, and certainly more than a single person, given the miraculous amount of time in which the traps are staged--not to mention the number of people involved. One thing I did like--though it was given away way too early--was the Ocean's 11-style infiltration of the holding cell toward the end. And other similar stunts lent the filmmakers some credibility for thinking beyond 3D-centric goodies.
As for the trademark Saw twist, this one is a reach but I do think it ultimately works. As usual, they reach back into a previous installment and grope for a character to revive (I don't feel this is giving anything away at this point). And it's easy to question how Jigsaw juggled all of these associates, but, then again, the franchise has done an excellent job of reasserting Jigsaw's prowess and intellect, so, yeah, I think it works. is it mind-bending? No. Does it wrap up the franchise well? Cyclically, maybe, but above all, this is a thin, sloppy finale.