And find them they do. Strahm's superior Erickson (Mark Rolston) heads the investigation into Strahm's involvement in the serial killings, but he throws a monkey wrench into Hoffman's plans: Strahm's partner Agent Perez (Athena Karkanis), who Hoffman thought had died from one of his traps, is very much alive and very much suspicious of Hoffman.
As Erickson and Perez delve into the case, they continue to find evidence that points away from Strahm and in the general direction of Hoffman. Anxious, Hoffman nevertheless sets up one more trap, targeting victims identified by John/Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) before his death. The main target is William Easton (Peter Outerbridge), an insurance company executive responsible for accepting or rejecting coverage, based on a coldly calculating formula he created. Unfortunately for him, one of the people he turned down was terminal cancer patient John, who'd approached William for coverage for an experimental procedure.
Now, after death, John gives William a taste of his own medicine, making him run an hour-long gauntlet of games mimicking his profession of deciding people's fates -- except that the subjects this time are William's colleagues and friends, likewise stuck in deadly traps.
Along the way, we're privy to multiple flashbacks of John and his relationship with Hoffman, his protégé Amanda (Shawnee Smith) and his wife Jill (Betsy Russell), revealing more details about the endless plotting, backstabbing, double and triple-crossing that went on behind the scenes in the first five movies. And, of course, there's a twist. Or three.
The End Result
Unfortunately, a sense of obligation to "see it through" is one of the main driving forces behind watching Saw VI to the end. Although the newly-introduced characters of William and his circle of trust have a more interesting and relevant role here than those introduced in Saw V, the continued insistence on digging into John and Hoffman's background hits a dry bed. We're bombarded with flashback after flashback, few of which reveal anything substantial that we don't already know -- at least, until the very end. Yes, we understand that John was a family man who believed that those who take life for granted need to experience near-death in order to appreciate life. And we understand that Hoffman, by contrast, is a hothead who's more interested in straightforward revenge. No need to beat us over the head with it.
It's starting to feel like writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, who took over the series in Saw IV and have supposedly plotted it out to eight movies, are desperately grasping for reasons to squeeze John, the face of the series, into scenes. However, in Saw VI, only his interactions with William serve much purpose.
Meanwhile, although we find out what's in the box bequeathed to her from John, the likable Jill's role is disappointingly limited. And Hoffman's storyline is just a rehash of the previous film, in which he desperately tries to avoid detection by the feds. The Simone thread goes absolutely nowhere, but with the series' tendency to stretch out plot points across multiple films, it could eventually pan out.
On the bright side, the last 10 minutes of the movie are a kinetic ball of revelations that, like a good TV season finale, pique our interest for more. Not only do we get the requisite twist in the William story arc, but we also get multiple developments (I hesitate to call them all "twists") in the overall ongoing story that clear up a few items from the previous films and promise an intriguing showdown in Saw VII.